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