local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 last week
 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info

 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs



Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of March 12 - 18, 2003


Cancer survivor personal trainer for others in need

Express Staff Writer

"Not everyone is Lance Armstrong," says Suzanne Mulenos. "He’s an exception to the rule about post cancer care. He’s an anomaly."

Armstrong, who has won the Tour de France bicycle marathon three times, is a survivor of testicular cancer. Mulenos, a Sun Valley resident for the past four years, is not only a breast cancer survivor but also a registered nurse. She has turned her passion for physical training into a practice by helping cancer survivors with their rehabilitation.

While living in Seattle with her family, Mulenos worked as a nurse and a personal trainer.

One of the things she learned from her dual career is that some medications can affect a patient’s ability to exercise.

Mulenos was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 43. "Aggressive surgical and medical radiation was applied to the disease," she said in the medical jargon that peppers her speech. "I think of myself as cancer free."

Shortly thereafter, the family moved to Sun Valley.

"Instead of being victimized, you have to take charge," Mulenos said. "The wake-up call gives you permission to live a life that expresses your passions."

Her wake-up call convinced her to help others heal and strengthen after treatment for cancer.

"I live my passion to work with oncology patients." She feels her position as both a former patient and a nurse gives her an authentic perspective.

"Once patients are done with all the stuff, then what? There’s a huge schism. They can fall into the victim mode or they can become proactive," Mulenos said.

Mulenos uses several methods to aid in a patient’s recovery, working with an oncology nutritionist in Seattle and in collaboration with the patient’s primary physician. These methods include rehabilitating areas affected by radiation, surgery and chemotherapy.

"We do three things for cancer: burn, slash or poison."

The procedures come with recovery needs: rebuilding muscle structure after surgery, rebuilding nutrition based diets and helping to rebuild physical confidence.

Stress is a high risk factor in cancer, and can "severely impact’s ones immune system," Mulenos said

"In a nutshell, stress increases cortisol in the system, which may be a pathway to cancer cell production." Cortisol, a necessary steroid hormone, is made in the adrenal glands adjacent to the kidneys.

For her clients, Mulenos recommends relaxation techniques that may be anything from having a talisman to hold—worry beads, a rosary, or a piece of crystal—to meditation, yoga or aerobics.

"I’m not a spiritual counselor but reattaching to one’s spirituality is effective. I’ve learned a lot and have been exposed to a lot. I hope to empower them and make cancer a turning point in their lives.

"But people get desperate, so if I’m out of my realm, I send them to appropriate people like therapists or priests."

Her clients also keep a food journal. Mulenos helps her clients improve their diets, alcohol and calorie intake, and teaches them how to balance fats, protein and carbohydrates. She said improving antioxidant intake is vital but not until after treatment. Antioxidants are found in teas but also in brightly colored vegetables and fruits, ranging from purples, reds and oranges to yellows.

"Also, the spicier the food the better, and dark chocolate is wonderful," she added gleefully.

Mulenos shows her passion by being extremely knowledgeable and curious about cancer. She stays updated on the latest news regarding cancer treatments and recovery. Indeed, Mulenos was a vocal participant at the recent Expedition Inspiration Breast Cancer Research public forum at River Run Lodge. She asked so many thought provoking questions the panelists finally had to ask her to let others get a word in.

Mulenos, who was a competitive swimmer in her youth, has run the Danskin Women‘s Triathalon four times. For the first two years, her whole team was made up of cancer survivors. "Two years ago we finished in the top 10 overall," she said proudly.

Today, she trains at both Thunder Spring and the Sun Valley Athletic Center. In addition, she’s involved with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony Music Conservatory.

She approaches all forms of cancer in her work, but says breast cancer is her specialty based upon experience. Part of her message to her patients is to live.

"You have to take more from cancer than it takes from you. An unrequited life is a failure."

Ski Reports


Mountain Jobs

Formula Sports

Idaho Conservation League



Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.