Samantha Burton will never take walking for granted again.

"Movement is life, like that's my mantra," she says. "It's really important to everything we do in life."

It’s a phrase Burton lives by after a tumour was removed from her brain a few years ago. After the successful surgery she had to re-learn to walk.

"I was really lucky that I was able to bounce back after a few months,” Burton recalls. “But I started to realize that there were people who the problem wasn't just in their brain, and they couldn't come back from it. There were people who the problem was literally in their muscle."

Along with her classmates, the now second year human kinetics master’s student will be researching that very thing – involuntary skeletal muscle waste in cancer patients – also known as cancer cachexia.

"Currently there is no agreed upon strategy to minimize cachexia during cancer progression,” says assistant professor Matthew Krause, who is overseeing the new research program. “So the goal of this program is to gain new insights into why cancer cachexia occurs, how best to combat it."

According to Krause, most cancer patients experience cachexia as a response to either the disease, or aggressive treatments to combat it, like chemotherapy.

Krause estimates it's also behind roughly one in five cancer deaths.

"When skeletal muscle wastes away, things get more difficult,” Krause says. “Once you reach a certain threshold, that's when mortality rates go up."

The research team at the University of Windsor's Faculty of Human Kinetics received $100,000 on Tuesday from CIBC. The money will provide scholarships for students and also help purchase equipment for live exercise training programs with actual cancer patients.

"Education, research and skills are vital tools in the fight against cancer,” Jonathon Dent, Senior Vice President and west region head for CIBC tells CTV Windsor. “We are proud to offer deserving students the ability to delve deeper and achieve a greater understanding of this disease."