Meet the inspirational cancer patients and survivors who are rowing toward recovery

The Recovery on Water group helps breast cancer patients and survivors improve their strength through rowing and fosters a community for women struggling with the disease.
4:37 | 11/07/17

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Transcript for Meet the inspirational cancer patients and survivors who are rowing toward recovery
Now to an incredible group using exercise to help heal from breast cancer. Physic physically, mentally and emotionally. A recent study shows exercise can help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and this group is proof it can do so much more. Friendship, strength, hope. There's a bond that brings these women closer together and is not just early morning row practice. I'm Bridget and I have breast cancer. I'm Jill and I have breast cancer. I'm Natalie and am a breast and ovarian cancer survivor. Reporter: O.W. Stands for recovery on water. A nonprofit in Chicago that brings current breast cancer patients and survivors together for rowing lessons free of charge. Since they go through an experience where they feel like they lose control of their body, it's a way for them to gain that power back and to have a proactive way of keeping cancer at bay. It makes a difference to be surrounded by people that understand your experience. We can talk about arm bands and, oh, we can talk about what medicine are you on. I'm tired too. We can have that kind of wanter then let's get in the water and row. Reporter: Research shows that working out during treatment may not only change the level of hormones linked to breast cancer but it also decreases nausea, fatigue and emotional distress. It can also decrease body fat and provide cardiovascular benefits which may prolong survival. It really helps not only emotionally but the whole body. I have lymphedema in both my arms and it's gotten much better sense I started this. My cancer spread up in my brain. My last couple of scans were pretty good so I can only think that, you know, this is helping me. I'm not sitting around feeling sorry for myself. Definitely not. You know, I'm out like doing it. How I love that group of women. Jen Ashton is here. Dr. Jen Ashton and so tell us how exercise can actually lower breast cancer. So, we don't know for sure but there are a couple of theories here and I want to do a little demonstration to really drive that. That's why we're stepping back. Less a little bleach so don't try it at home. And this is a rental. So the first theory with exercise really has to do with inflammation and insulin. Insulin can be a good thing in small amounts. In large amounts not a good thing. Pouring in exercise, it neutralizing the effect of inflammation and insulin on driving cancer. Second theory has to do with hormones and fat so body fat produces estrogen. Some is good. Too much not so good. So again if you think of this as exercise, it helps to neutralize the effects of that fat and estrogen on certain types of breast cancers and the third one has to do with a substance called sex hormone binding globulin and think of it as the transporter of extree general so, again, this is the exercise, it actually increases so it doesn't make it disappear but increases this sex hormone binding globulin and leaves less estrogen working around to work on the breast. So what type of exercise are we talking about? We saw in that piece rowing. That's obviously cardiovascular has been shown to reduce the risk of recurrence and to prolong survival and in some studies reduced the risk of breast cancer to begin with so you want to get your cardio in and, of course, we know about the endorphins that can help with head to toe wellness but any type of exercise is so important, robin. You want to do resistance training and do weights and in women recovering from surgery, range of motion, yoga, stretching, all really important for healing the entire body. Remember, it's about not just a body part it's about head to toe and the whole organism. Who should do it. Women who have been diagnosed definitely. Did you find it difficult to get moving when you were battling -- It was difficult because we were bloated because of all the medication. Exhausted. All of those things but, you know, because I was very active before and my doctor said, no, it did not prevent me from getting breast cancer but, boy, did it help me in fighting it. And the recovery. I think who should do it. If you've been diagnosed check with your doctor if you've had surgery or undergoing chemo. Even if it's sitting on a sofa and moving your legs, the care givers, men, the offspring, everyone. I know it's so difficult, breast cancer is not one size fits all but if you can get up and move and do that, please, please, please, all right, Jen, thanks.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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