Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Livestrong: Helping Survivors live strong

It 1998 I became a member of an excusive club.  It is so exclusive that you can't volunteer to join it.  You have to be invited and the invitations are sent randomly to people all around the world.  They are sent to the young, the old, the rich and the poor.  No country, race or gender is left out.  But unlike most invitations, this one is met with fear.  Think Katniss from the Hunger Games and the lottery.  

By no means do you want to receive this invitation but when you do, you are willing to fight to the death.  In 1998 I was handed that invitation.  It said, "You are cordially invited to attend 8 rounds of chemo, 6 weeks of radiaton, double mastectomy and reconstruction.  You have been selected in a fight to the death against Stage III breast cancer.  Should you win this fight, you will win the honor and title of Survivor."

It has been over 15 years since I received that invitation and each day I thank God for His strength as I went through that battle and became a member of this club.  I don't wish it on anyone but the view of life that I have after it, makes me feel blessed that I did receive the invitation  Can't explain it but when you meet another survivor they understand.  There is this secret "knowing" that you  feel when you meet another survivor.  There is this experience that has altered you for the rest of your life that only another survivor can understand.  I consider it a privieldge when I meet another survivor.

That is why I am so grateful to the Livestrong foundation and the YMCA.  They teamed up to offer a free 12 week training course to any cancer survivor.  It is done in a group environment to promote  support among the survivors while helping them begin or maintain a healty lifestyle and minimize the side effects of treatment.  During these 12 weeks, the survivors, as well as members of the family that reside in the same household, receive free membership to the YMCA and free group training.  

We have met for three weeks so far and I must say that I am really enjoying it and learning so much.  There are 8 survivors in our inaugural Livestrong group.  We have 6 breast cancer survivors, one melanoma survivor and one rectal cancer survivor.  The youngest is 25 and the oldest is probably in her 60s.  We meet twice a week as a group but are encouraged to come more often.  We will be exposed to all forms of exercise.  We use the treadmills, ellipticals, crossfit trainers and weight machines.  This week we will take a yoga class and a spinning class.  If you are a subscriber to my blog you know how I feel about spinning and my last experience with spinning.  But I will try it again. Here's to second chances.

So if you have a family member or friend that is a survivor and you think they may be interested in a program like this one, contact your local YMCA and see if they have started one in their center.  It is a wonderful program.

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