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Renowned robotic GYN surgeon. Back at work after his own mastectomy in just 5 weeks.

Dr. Marc Winter’s Story

As an OBGYN physician and surgeon I've worked with many women who have had breast cancer.

But it was a big surprise when I was diagnosed with it myself

Although rare compared to the amount of women who get it, male breast cancer does occur more than people might think. In fact, the American Cancer Society says thousands of men will be diagnosed with it this year - and that’s just in the U.S.

So, in November I underwent a mastectomy. Luckily I was the type of cancer patient who did not have to do post-surgery chemotherapy. I was prescribed Tamoxefin - estrogen receptor blockers - and that was that as far as initial treatment was concerned.

Now the big question was how fast could I get back to work? With my lymph nodes removed I could hardly move both my right side and my right arm - which is pretty much a necessity as a surgeon. In fact, my entire range of motion was greatly diminished. Much more so than I thought possible.

About three weeks after the surgery I realized that I was not improving in my recovery and that some sort of therapy was going to be necessary. Fortunately a friend of mine who owns ProSport Performance Complex in Rancho Santa Margarita and said he might just have just the thing - a Pilates-based rehabilitation practice had just opened within the complex. And that’s were I met Dawn-Marie Ickes.

After my first appointment with Dawn-Marie I knew this was what I needed. For one, Pilates-based rehab provides a very holistic approach which is exactly what I was looking for. Secondly, it included not just soft tissue work around the area of the surgery but more of a total-body approach - getting my core and entire body stronger so that I could move and stand functionally while the strength in my right side stabilized.

After a few sessions I began to feel a difference. After a few weeks I could definitely feel my right side and arm getting stronger. I went back to work part time at the end of December and two weeks later I was working full time. It was incredibly fast from where I started out - six weeks after the surgery and literally just weeks after I started doing Pilates.

I feel better than I have in years and my core is probably stronger than it has ever been. Pilates has inspired me to extend this holistic approach into other areas of my life - in diet and exercise. I want to be in better shape than I was prior to the surgery. That is my personal quest.

And now that I’m back at work I totally can see the benefit of Pilates in the women I treat, particularly when I see a patient who has just had a mastectomy. When I tell them I know this stuff works - I’ve been there - it really resonates with them. I also see the benefit for women recovering from pelvic floor surgery as Pilates can absolutely strengthen that region as well.

As a medical professional I must say that Pilates-based rehab is the real deal - every therapist should strongly consider adding it to their repertoire and every patient should be made aware of it. The holistic approach makes so much sense and is a big reason I now refer so many of my patients back to Evolve.

Marc and Dawn-Marie use the following equipment:

Marc Winter
Learn More About

» Pilates
» Pilates for Rehabilitation
» Pilates in Commercial Fitness
» Starting a Pilates Studio

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» Rashmi Gandhi’s Story
» Grant Korgan’s Recovery from Paralysis
» Roland Smiley’s Challenge with Blindness
» Mark Jeffe’s Recovery from a Spinal Injury
» Marc Winter’s Recovery from Breast Cancer

About Dawn-Marie Ickes & Evolve Wellness

Dawn-Marie Ickes, MPT, owns Evolve Integrative Wellness, located in Rancho Santa Margarita within the ProSport Performance Complex. Evolve Integrative offers an innovative approach to wellness based physical therapy, corrective exercise and fitness.

For Marc, Dawn-Marie created a Pilates-based program that was a combination of scar tissue mobilization, lymphatic stimulation and support, endurance training and inner unit awareness, and strengthening and integration into his upper extremity use.

Because Marc needed to get back to his clinical schedule in just three weeks, Dawn-Marie initiated his Pilates work as early as the second visit, with extremely tenacious monitoring of his lymphatic system and the mild edema he presented with.

She used Pilates exercises initially to reinforce the fascial release work, create body positioning and restriction awareness and support his own internal postural checks and balances. One of their main goals was to re-wire his unconscious postural strategies for when he returned to surgery. As with most surgeons in the OR, their mind is not on what position their shoulders, back or pelvis are in. Their patients are the ONLY concern.

The results were more than encouraging. Within one week his cording was resolving and AROM was at 80% of normal. At 6 weeks after surgery he achieved full functionality.

Dawn-Marie firmly believes that Marc would not have recovered as fast if Pilates had not been a part of therapy. For her Pilates not only acted as a therapeutic tool for strengthening and stabilization, but also tissue restoration. And the combination of coordinated breath with movement greatly facilitated his recovery.

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