LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA Program helped me reclaim my life.

Reclaiming Health

I was always a very active, athletic person. Then a breast cancer diagnosis stopped me in my tracks. Rounds of chemo and radiation robbed me of all my strength and muscle mass. I went from running marathons to barely being able to walk up a flight of stairs. When I was finally in remission and my doctor released me to work out, I was reluctant.

My husband encouraged me to go to the YMCA. I hadn’t been in long time, but as soon as I walked in someone at the front desk recognized me and greeted me so warmly. They asked where I’d been. After I told them my story, they connected me with the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program. It changed my life.

Q: Why did you join the Y?

A: My family has been coming to the Y for years. My kids learned to swim here, I trained for marathons, and I’m pretty sure my husband is responsible for at least a few worn out treadmill belts over the years. It’s a big part of my family’s routine and we love it here.

Q: What does your Y membership mean to you?

A: To be honest, the Y to me had always been a gym until I was diagnosed with breast cancer. After 9 months of surgery, chemo, and radiation I was beaten down, bald, and feeling like a shell of my formerly active self. I had to figure out how to start living again, and it’s really hard to find a safe space to do that. That’s where my Y membership took on a different meaning.

Q: How did LIVESTRONG at the YMCA change your life?

A: Through the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA Program, I met a group of men and women — young, old and everything in between, exercise fans, and reluctant movers — who shared the cancer experience. We met twice a week with Y staff and amazing coaches, to stretch, exercise, connect, talk as much or a little as we liked, and support each other. You heard more laughter than tears during our sessions, but both were okay. It is one fierce and fabulous group. There’s a lot of love in that room, a lot of healing.

Q: What was the most important aspect of the program for you?

A: I have two daughters and throughout the whole cancer experience, I didn’t want to scare them. I wanted to show my girls that I was going to beat this. I wanted to be strong for them. At home, I always felt like I had to put on a strong, brave face. At the Y, I could be vulnerable, feel what I needed to feel, and have a community that would help me work through it and heal.

Q: How has your relationship with the YMCA changed?

A: Thanks to LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, the Y is no longer just my gym. It is my community and my support system. It is my anchor as I continue to reclaim my life. Because of this, I can dream about what’s next for me and my family and I can live a strong and vibrant life. It is my greatest hope, that I can inspire others to do the same. And for that I am forever grateful. 

Q: Why should people give to the Y?

A: Before my experiences we didn’t give to the Y. To be honest, we didn’t understand the depth of the programs and the good the Y does. Now, when we think about our yearly charitable contributions it is the first place we give. It supports the good in so many people, in so many ways.

Read the rest of Roblyn’s story
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