Bridging the Gap
The Rocky Mountain Cancer Rehabilitation Institute is committed to the advancement of quality of life for cancer survivors during and following treatment through prescriptive exercise rehabilitation and nutritional intervention. The program aims to stimulate innovative research in the field of cancer rehabilitation. Basic science research allows for the application of theoretical mechanistic benefits of exercise in cancer survivors to clinical practice. RMCRI believes understanding and identifying the underlying mechanisms behind the benefits of exercise in cancer survivors is essential to the progression of the field of cancer rehabilitation. RMCRI strives to bridge the gap between clinical practice and basic science research.
Jessica Brown, RMCRI Clinical Coordinator and Doctoral Graduate Student
"Cancer is a word, not a sentence ~John Diamond. I truly believe this. In my time at the Rocky Mountain Cancer Rehabilitation Institute I have seen more courage, love and faith than I imagined possible. RMCRI has become a family, not just a workplace. I have had the opportunity to develop life-long friendships with our cancer survivors, student interns, and colleagues. As a fourth year doctoral student and Clinical Coordinator of RMCRI, I’ve been given the chance to explore and expand upon current research findings, develop new lines of thinking, and enrich an already amazing cancer rehab program. My experience as a Cancer Exercise Specialist during my Masters degree taught me compassion and gave me the foundational knowledge to succeed in any medical or exercise field. The University of Northern Colorado has been my home for eight years now, and has given me the greatest college experience. No student can find a more enriching college experience than working/training at RMCRI and UNC."
Dan Shackleford, Doctoral Graduate Student
"My education and social interactions at Rocky Mountain Cancer Rehabilitation Institute has been a life-changing experience. With RMCRI, I have been able to create and maintain many meaningful relationships with so many people, including faculty, staff, and cancer survivors. I have gained valuable experience by performing assessments, writing specialized exercise prescriptions, and individualized workouts for cancer survivors. Working in this environment, you can’t help but feel inspired by the people who continue to fight and refuse to give up. Their strength and determination serves as a beacon to follow. Many of the cancer survivors say that RMCRI is one of the best things to ever have happened to them. Our facility is a one-of-a-kind institute, and the research conducted here is the frontrunner in cancer rehabilitation and acts as the example to follow. I’ve been given the chance to design and run studies with my advisors, particularly in attenuating severe side effects of cancer treatments such as depression, fatigue, and reduced quality of life in cancer survivors. These opportunities have allowed me to grow and improve as a researcher and as a student. This is such a spectacular and motivating field, and RMCRI will help you achieve every one of your goals."
Traci Parry, Doctoral Graduate Student
“My schooling at UNC has been extremely unique and has enabled a multidimensional opportunity for me to grow as a researcher. Within RMCRI, I have been able to investigate the effects of cancer treatment on physiological and psychological function, as well as learn how exercise can alleviate those negative and debilitating side effects in both clinical and basic science models. Working with RMCRI’s survivors has been extremely rewarding and inspirational. Observing the change in functionality, and subsequent attitude, of survivors as they progress through the program is a truly special experience I will take with me. My experiences within the basic science side of the research have been nothing short of spectacular. Our multifaceted analysis of cardiac function, skeletal muscle function, bone density, diet, and exercise in conjunction with chemotherapeutic agents has given me the chance to observe several physiological systems from whole organ function, in vivo and ex vivo, to biochemical analyses in a clinically relevant fashion. This program has given so much to me as a student; I could not be more thankful for the opportunities found at UNC and RMCRI.”
Brent Peterson, Doctoral Graduate Student
“In my decision process of where to pursue my doctoral education I was adamant about certain elements that the institution where I would spend five years of my life must encompass. I wanted to be in a program that was nationally ranked according to AAKPE standards, promoted individual scholarly endeavors, as well as promote and encourage interdepartmental and interdisciplinary collaborations within research disciplines. While I found similar attributes among the doctoral granting institutions, the one thing that other institutions did not have was the RMCRI. I was absolutely amazed by the foundational application of exercise physiology principles for the improvement of quality of life in cancer survivors. The opportunity to study in this field as well as have extensive applied experience has been an incredible blessing. For the past three years I have been able to collaborate with some of the brightest young minds in this field as well as be taught and advised by distinguished mentors who are among the top minds in their respective disciplines. In addition, the individual encouragement and support by mentors who are as incredibly gifted as they are passionate about their teaching and research is extraordinarily atypical. In retrospect, I believe I made the absolute correct choice in deciding where to finalize my education in the doctoral program here at UNC. My experience as a doctoral student has been exceedingly rewarding. I will be forever grateful and thankful to my advisors for allowing me the unique opportunity to study what I am passionate about, and be instrumental in research aimed at improving the quality of life in cancer survivors.”
Noah Gibson, Doctoral Graduate Student
“I decided to pursue a Ph.D. at the University of Northern Colorado because of the unique research opportunities in the Sport and Exercise Science department and with the Rocky Mountain Cancer Rehabilitation Institute. I have had the opportunity to work with high caliber faculty on research projects as well as independently to develop my own research abilities. By working in the basic sciences laboratory, I have gained the necessary skills and had the support of the faculty to obtain my future career goals. Research at RMCRI ranges from basic and translational sciences to applied and clinical approaches. It is rare to have an academic program with all facets of scientific research that is working toward a common goal, to understand why exercise is beneficial to help alleviate the side effects of cancer treatments. While UNC is allowing me to develop a career as a scientist, the most rewarding aspect that comes with being part of RMCRI is the improved quality of life that we can offer cancer patients.”
Atli Sveinsson, Foreign Exchange Graduate Student
"People often asked me why I picked UNC. The story is, that during the last year of my undergrad in health and exercise science at The University of Iceland I had no idea what I was going to do with my bachelor’s degree. I was doing an internship at a cardiac- and lung-rehabilitation facility in Iceland when I got a phone call from my mother saying that my grandmother was in the hospital with serious lung disease. She passed away a few days later and I started to think if I could seek my master’s degree in cardiac rehabilitation helping people who are struggling with diseases. I knew a guy who went to USA for his master’s degree and I became interested in what schools in USA have to offer that the schools in Iceland don’t have. I always wanted to go to Colorado to see the Rocky Mountains, being a snowboarding enthusiast myself, and a Bronco’s fan. So my search for schools in Colorado began. I looked up schools that had my program and found UNC. As I was reading about UNC I noticed their cancer rehabilitation program at the RMCRI. I instantly thought to myself that this was something I was supposed to do. I had never heard of cancer rehabilitation before and felt like this program would give me a unique status when I would turn back to Iceland. I applied and got accepted so then it was time to leave my family and girlfriend for almost two years. During my last semester at UNC I did my internship at RMCRI and what a place! This place is like no other in the world. The atmosphere is phenomenal and the students, supervisors, and clients are all awesome. This internship gave me so much experience not just for my field of study but also in every aspect of life. Everyone worked well together to make this place as awesome as it is, helping people overcoming the hard life of fighting cancer. Now when I return back to Iceland with my Master’s Degree from UNC, Cancer Exercise Specialist certification from RMCRI and Health Fitness Specialist from ACSM, I know I will be unique and my experience and friends have all made me a better man. Thanks to UNC and the experience at RMCRI I have more confidence in taking on real life situations in the field of health and exercise and want to thank everyone who influenced me on my Colorado journey."