California nonprofits unite to establish exercise as standard practice in cancer care

Sunflower Wellness (SFW) of San Francisco, California and Maple Tree Cancer Alliance (MTCA), headquarted in Dayton, Ohio, announce that they have formed a strategic partnership to become the first national organization with individualized programs integrating cancer care and exercise.

“The vision of Maple Tree Cancer Alliance is to advocate for exercise oncology to become a standard part of clinical practice. It is this vision that is driving the partnership between MTCA and SFW. Together, we believe that this partnership will lay the groundwork to bring our vision into reality for all those who are diagnosed with cancer,” said MTCA Founder and Director, Dr. Karen Wonders.

Maple Tree Cancer Alliance, currently operates in 15 hospitals serving Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, has developed an Exercise Oncology Instructor certification that is accredited through the National Academy of Sports Medicine and nationally recognized. MTCA provides free individualized exercise training, nutrition education, and emotional support to cancer patients, from the time of diagnosis through the remainder of their treatment.

Sunflower Wellness has partnerships with Stanford Medical Center, UCSF, Marin Cancer Care, Kaiser Permanente, Charlotte Maxwell Clinic, and Shanti, SFW delivers its Exercise Counseling programs.

“We are thrilled about the strategic possibilities of this new union. As rates of cancer diagnosis have increased, there has been a growing demand for a standardized and nationwide model that can deliver personalized exercise programs for people living with cancer. By partnering with MTCA, we can provide access to scalable, broader, and a comprehensive set of services to more patients,” said SFW Board Chair, Derek Barnes.

Together, the combined entities continue a legacy committed to high-quality, evidenced-based programming, which is supported by a robust research program. To date, this has produced more than 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, clinical co-authored research, and a series of expert panel discussions, all demonstrating the benefits of exercise and sound nutrition during cancer treatment. On average, most patients experience significant improvements to their cardiovascular health, muscular strength, and flexibility. In addition to better overall treatment outcomes, cost-savings analyses reveal significant reductions in emergency department visits, 30-day readmissions, length of hospital stays, depression, and recurrence rates in patients who participate in exercise programs during treatment.