The YMCA LIVESTRONG program is gearing up for its second year that the Yadkin Family YMCA and after a successful first year the program is aiming to improve the health and spirits of cancer survivors in Yadkin County.
“It was a balance between exercise and emotional and spiritual support,” said Geraldine Brannon, a Hamptonville resident and 2012 participant. “I think that spiritual was really emphasized by the instructors and the participants. I would say that it affects you emotionally, physically and spiritually and if you’re missing any of it then it affects the outcome.”
Brannon was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. After a lumpectomy and 36 radiation treatments Brannon went into remission. During her treatment she had to care for her husband who was in a nursing home and put her child through college.
“I felt good about my recovery and then in 2012 I was diagnosed again with breast cancer in the same breast,” Brannon said. “I had a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction and this time last year I couldn’t lift my arms and now I can do about anything I want to.”
Brannon said that the program gave her a strong support group of people who knew what she was going through and provided her an outlet to focus on herself and her health.
“I think we could say things in our group and we would be understood,” Brannon said. “Mentally and emotionally you’ve got to really talk to yourself and keep your spirits up but you also have to admit you need a pity party and you have to accept that there are times that you’ll feel really low.”
Wanda Shock, a Yadkinville resident and 2012 participant, had a slightly different experience with her diagnosis. Only four days after retiring in 2011 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went in for surgery in February that year and endured 33 radiation treatments and six months of chemotherapy.
When she found LIVESTRONG she found a group of people who understood her struggles and went beyond her program teammates to become her friends.
“I really enjoyed making friends with the group members and the leaders,” Schock said. “I felt stronger when I made myself do these exercises. I had been almost a year out of treatments when I started the program and I still felt like I was going downhill a little bit till we got into the exercise. I enjoyed the support group and what we shared.”
Schock said that although there was a large age range in the group everyone supported and encouraged each other even if they couldn’t keep up. She said that she enjoyed the variety of exercise the program provided for them.
“We did cardio every day,” Schock said. “We had water exercises a couple of times and they had a nutritionist come in. We touched on a lot of different aspects.”
Schock said that it was interesting being the first group to come through the program because the trainers were just as new to the workouts and the process as the participants were.
“We were the guinea pigs of this program so anytime they would come in and tell us that we were going to do things a little differently we’d asked if they’d gone home and read the book,” Schock said laughing.
The trainers involved in the program see the benefit as well and were touched by the stories and experiences they shared with the 2012 group.
“I think it’s so important for them to stay connected,” said Jeff Raines, a personal trainer and wellness coach. “That’s uplifting because whenever we go through anything that is tough, if we don’t verbalize and connect and communicate with other people just makes it just so much tougher. It’s so important to be connected with other people.”
The program is currently accepting referrals for the sessions that will be held Tuesday and Fridays from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. for 12 weeks. They can accept 10 participants and will take names for a waiting list for anyone signing up after the initial 10. The program will hold its first session on Feb. 19.
Potential members are brought in from referrals from their doctors. They are enrolled in the program and must commit to attending at least 80 percent of the classes or 19 sessions. Participants must have received chemotherapy or radiation treatment within the last five years to qualify for the program and not have participated in the program before.
Membership includes a free metro membership to the YMCA for three months and is of no cost to the participant. During the program cancer survivors work with trained Y staff to build muscle mass and strength, increase flexibility and endurance and improve functional ability.
To learn more about the program visit the YMCA in Yadkin at 6540 Service Rd., Yadkinville, call them at 336-679-7962 or visit www.ymcanwnc.org/livestrongattheymca.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.