California cancer patients dance through disease

March 08, 2018 12:10 PM

(NBC News) Cancer patients in California are learning to cope with their diagnosis, as well as potentially grueling cancer treatments, through the art of dance from a famous teacher: choreographer Debbie Allen. 

The "Fame" dancer and choreographer didn't stop inspiring dancers when her TV show stopped airing in the 1980's; her passion has evolved into a form of healing.

Her program for cancer patients and survivors is called J.O.Y., short for "journey of yourself."

"Because that's what the class inspires. People to go deep inside themselves, pull out those things that are weighing them down," Allen says.

Allen's partner is Dr. Lawrence Piro, CEO of the Angeles Clinic and Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai Los Angeles.

"There is evidence that, at least in some cancers, that the outcome of treatment may be better if you exercise. You would be surprised at how few people understand that dance is exercise," Dr. Piro says.

The class meets for seven weeks at Allen's dance studio in Los Angeles and the program is free of charge.

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