bone cancer awareness story _ mercy health
Sports / Orthopedic

Back in Full Swing after Sports Rehabilitation

Feb 22 2018

Joseph Branson was worried he’d never play golf again — learn how Mercy Health’s STAR program helped him get back on the course.

Retired Maumee resident and bone cancer survivor Joseph Branson is back on the green thanks to Mercy Health Physical Therapist Joany Reno and the Survivor Training And Rehabilitation Program (STAR).

The STAR program is a multidisciplinary oncology rehabilitation service at Mercy Health Toledo. The program aims to encourage cancer survivors to have the best quality of life possible.

Joe first sought care after he broke his back and two ribs by swinging a golf club. After having two cysts removed from his back, he started treatment.

“When I first started, I was absolutely delirious with pain,” Joe said. “I had trouble turning and walking. I thought my golf game was gone forever. Joany kept saying, ‘It’s not — we can do this.’”

Entering the building with his golf club each day, Joe quickly became recognizable. But the golf club served a greater purpose — it served as a visual reminder of his motivation. Eventually he was able to start coming once a week instead of twice.

“We worked on a bike and with a medicine ball and rubber band calisthenics,” Joe said. “My only goal was to swing a golf club again. Then the goal became to swing 9 or 18 holes with no pain.”

Meeting his goals

At the end of every session Joe asked Joany if he could swing a golf club. He was told no for many sessions, until one day she finally said he was clear. After that, Joe’s question changed to if he could play 9 holes of golf, then 18.

Joe wanted complete recovery without taking pain medicine. When he finished the Mercy Health STAR rehabilitation, he was painkiller free. He was also able to play golf for four days straight without medication during a recent vacation.

“If you don’t think it’s possible, it is,” he said. “I don’t have the words to express the way I feel about the gift of golf Joany gave back to me. She never gave up and it was close to a miracle.”

We understand that battling injury can be frustrating, which is why we’re alongside you every step of the way. Reach out to our orthopedics and sports medicine team today to learn more. Visit or call 513-952-5000 to learn more today.


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