Cancer survivor triumphantly returns to the stage

A Tai Chi instructor since 2005, Ruth Gilbert of Champaign, assumes her proper place at the head of the class this Wednesday. She’s eager to share with fellow cancer speaker series members who’ve heard about the positive energy she receives practicing the ancient art of Tai Chi as part of her recovery.

“It sometimes feels like a magic bottle of potion,” Gilbert said, adding Tai Chi increases energy, develops flexibility and agility, promotes relaxation, and improves balance and strength.

Before her cancer diagnosis, Gilbert, 71, practiced at least two hours a week and attended high-intensity courses to keep her skills fresh. Today she’s grateful to complete 20-minute practices. Having been in good physical condition before cancer, she’s surprised how long it takes to get back to “normal.”

“The effects of radiation are lingering, and I’m still treating some issues in my shoulders, but Tai Chi keeps my joints ‘oiled’ and my body moving so I feel better,” Gilbert said.

“A 10-minute daily practice is better than 60 minutes on Saturday,” Gilbert said, emphasizing how making Tai Chi part of your daily routine increases its effectiveness. “You can do it anytime–over lunch or at work.”

Cancer survivors and their families have an opportunity to try Tai Chi this week.

Wednesday, June 21
5:30-6:30 p.m.
Houseworth Conference Room
(Carle Cancer Center second floor)

Gilbert’s session on Tai Chi includes:

  • Origins
  • Demonstration
  • Participation
  • Relaxation experience
  • Q & A

“I’m going to have to up my game,” she said of her return to teaching.

Tai Chi participants perform movements slowly and meditatively or with increased intention for high intensity. All movements are adapted for the physical capacity of participants.

The Cancer Speaker Series features various cancer-related topics. Carle Cancer Center support groups are free and open to all cancer survivors, regardless of where they receive treatment.

Family members are welcome. In fact, because the cancer center considers anyone with cancer a survivor, sometimes those recently diagnosed will bring a spouse.

“Patients are welcome to bring family and friends with them to the speaker series. It’s a great way for patients and caregivers to meet new people and get support,” said Kimberly Harden, LCSW.