Pilates and Dr. Karyn Staples changed Sandra Storrar’s cancer recovery


A recommendation from a friend for a Pilates instructor turned into life-changing support for Sandra Storrar. 

Sandra recognized from a young age the importance of being healthy. She’s always participated in some form of exercise along with maintaining a healthy diet. Eight years ago, Sandra was looking to change her exercise routine. A friend recommended taking Pilates classes at ProHealth Physical Therapy and Pilates Studio, owned by Karyn Staples, PT PhD. After a few classes, Sandra was hooked. She began attending weekly Pilates classes at ProHealth.

“I have a full real estate practice that keeps me busy when I’m not doing Pilates,” says Sandra, who has been in the business since 2004. 

“The only constant in the real estate world as far as I’m concerned is change,” she adds, a statement that proved to be true in Sandra’s personal life as well. 

After 20 cancer-free years, Sandra was diagnosed with breast cancer, her second battle, in the summer of 2016. She reached out to Karyn and the ProHealth team as soon as her breast mastectomy and reconstructive surgery were scheduled. 

Karyn immediately went to work to ensure Sandra’s body was prepared for surgery. Karyn coordinated with Sandra’s plastic surgeon to determine which muscles to concentrate on most in their Pilates sessions. Sandra’s doctors were impressed by Karyn’s knowledge of the muscles and body.

“He said he learned some things from her,” Sandra said.

Dr. Karyn Staples guides Sandra Storrar in Pilates movements on the reformer machine. Pilates has replaced weight training and aerobic workouts for Sandra Storrar, a critical change as she manages health challenges and the aging process.

As soon as her doctors gave the go-ahead after her surgery, Sandra resumed physical therapy with Karyn. Sandra returned to regular Pilates lessons after only two months. 

Reconstructive breast surgery leaves many women with limited mobility in their arms. Because of her work with Karyn before and after the surgery, this is not Sandra’s story.

“[Some women] can’t raise their arms above their head, and I have full functionality in all those arm muscles.”

Sandra also credits working with Karyn and the ProHealth team for her speedy recovery from a total hip replacement in January of 2019. Karyn again coordinated with the surgeon and worked intentionally with Sandra to prepare her body. The morning surgery took less than an hour. “I was up and walking by four o’clock that afternoon.”

While Karyn and the ProHealth team gave Sandra physical support as they trained with her to prepare for both surgeries, they also gave Sandra incredible emotional support. One of the things Sandra loves about Pilates is the emotional component. Pilates is known for helping people with confidence in addition to physical strength and flexibility. This was a new side of emotional support from Pilates that Sandra had not experienced before. 

“It’s part therapy, emotional therapy, so to speak, because of how she approaches it.”

Karyn worked with Sandra as a physical therapist and Pilates instructor, becoming one of Sandra’s biggest supporters.

“I always knew that I could rely on [Karyn], send her a text, ‘I need to talk’ or ‘we need to check this out.’”

Karyn has encouraged Sandra through each surgery and sickness. Sandra was comforted by Karyn’s determination to prepare her body, keep her strong, and try new things. Sandra feels Karyn supports her nearly as much as her family.

“I would say family members, several friends, and Karyn are in my very top tier.”

Sandra Storrar admires Dr. Karyn Staples’ ability to listen and be present, as well as her willingness to learn and answer questions. “Her understanding of the body and how it works systemically just continues to amaze me,” she says.

Sandra admires Karyn’s ability to listen and be present, as well as her willingness to learn and answer questions. Karyn kept Sandra informed on why they were doing each exercise and why they helped Sandra’s body. “Her understanding of the body and how it works systemically just continues to amaze me.”

During a Pilates session towards the end of 2020, Sandra felt a lump as Karyn guided her arm movement. Sandra went to her doctor as soon as she could and confirmed it was cancerous. The position of the growth prevented detection by a mammogram. It’s unclear how long the cancer may have remained undetected without her relationship with Karyn. 

Now fighting her third battle with cancer, Sandra is going through treatment again but remains consistent with her Pilates sessions at ProHealth, working with Karyn twice a week. Her trust and comfort with Karyn and her team continues and grows.

“I kept up my sessions during COVID and during chemotherapy intentionally, knowing that I could rely on Karyn’s management of her facility.”

Karyn consistently checks in with Sandra and modifies their sessions to make Pilates work best for Sandra. 

Looking back, Sandra wishes she’d found Pilates while she was in her twenties. The guided movements of Pilates provide structure and build flexibility and strength. Sandra replaced weight training and aerobic workouts with Pilates, a welcome change as she ages and manages health challenges.

“It’s helping my body keep my muscle tone as strong as possible and keep my flexibility, which are critical in the aging process.”

Because Pilates is gentle and focused on breathing and movement, people of all ages and abilities can participate and reap the benefits.

“I will continue with Pilates forever and ever … It’s a part of my life I don’t ever plan to change.”

If you’re interested in Pilates classes, give Karyn a call at 770-487-1931 for information or to book a starter package. Classes are available in the studio and via zoom.

ProHealth Physical Therapy and Pilates Studio is located at 1777 Georgian Park in Peachtree City, Georgia. 

About Pilates

The Pilates Method is not just exercise. It is a series of controlled movements designed to develop strength, increase flexibility, and lengthen muscles while achieving total body awareness. At ProHealth Physical Therapy and Pilates Studio, it is a customized workout utilizing Pilates equipment and mat work, which provides you with the stretching and breathing benefits of yoga and the strengthening benefits of weight training.