Living STRONG and Making Friends After Cancer
At the beginning of every 12- week session of LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, some participants may be quiet, reserved, a bit nervous, and perhaps even skeptical. Participants may be anxious about walking into the Y for the first time and joining a group of people they have never met. They might be worried about not being able to do some of the activities and hesitant to exercise in front of other people.
With the help of YMCA staff and the camaraderie of the other LIVESTRONG at the YMCA participants, those nerves and reservations will hopefully go away quickly. After being welcomed by YMCA staff and given the opportunity to share their story on the first day of class, participants become fast friends. Throughout the program, participants are allowed the opportunity to get to know each other better, find common interests, and often create a bond over their unfortunate shared experience of a cancer diagnosis.
LIVESTRONG at the YMCA brings cancer survivors of all different ages (18 years or older) and backgrounds together in a small group (6-14 participants) to exercise and support each other over the course of 12 weeks. YMCA staff who are specially trained to work with cancer survivors will lead the group two days a week for 75 minutes each the goal of improving endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance. The participants in the group hold each other accountable, encourage and support one another, and… they have fun! They become each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Meeting up to exercise together outside of class is encouraged, as well as trying Group Exercise classes together.
As the 12-week program nears the end, staff work with participants on creating his/her own personal plan to continue exercising and working towards their health and wellness goals. Often this includes exercising with a buddy and/or attending YMCA group exercise classes where they will be in community with others. Research shows that social interaction improves mental health and overall wellbeing, as well as increases the likelihood that participants will stick to their exercise routine.
LIVESTRONG at the YMCA graduates often recognize that the group aspect of the program contributed to their success. A recent LIVESTRONG at the YMCA graduate said, “I didn’t know what to expect in the first few classes, but this experience was absolutely GREAT for me. I met new friends, (and) I feel so much better.”
Another graduate said, “I really struggled with my diagnosis of cancer. This experience is the first time I have felt like I could take control of my life back. I was always so happy at the end of each session. Members of the group as well as instructors were so kind, positive, encouraging, and supportive.”
The next round of LIVESTRONG at the YMCA classes will begin in February 2024. For more information and/or to get registered, please email firstname.lastname@example.org