East Boston YMCA Executive Director Joe Gaeta said something beautiful is happening among a group of cancer survivors attending a new fitness program at the East Boston YMCA.
The Y’s new LiveSTRONG program, a free 12-week group exercise program that helps adult cancer survivors reclaim their lives health and wellbeing has morphed into something truly inspiring.
“It’s not just about the exercise,” said Gaeta. “All the participants in the program have formed meaningful bonds because they have all experienced the same trauma and uncertainty that comes with a cancer diagnosis. This group has become friends, and after the program is over they hang out, get coffee, talk with one another–it’s has become very inspiring to the staff here.”
The group of cancer survivors meet twice a week for 75 minutes. With LiveSTRONG the YMCA helping cancer survivors in their local communities get the physical activity, supportive relationships, and stress reduction they need to improve their quality of life.
“You feel lonelier after cancer treatment. A lot of questions popped into my head – Will my body ever get back to “normal”? How can I stay fit as my doctors told me to? Then I met LiveSTRONG,” said cancer survivor and LiveSTRONG participant Erin T. “Through this 12-week program, I met other cancer survivors. They were different in age and cancer type but were looking for the same things: emotional support and a way to stay healthy.”
Erin said under the lead of Stephanie Cook, the group’s certified trainer, the group instantly got connected with each other.
“We do not always talk about our experience with cancer, but it is good to know that you can talk about it whenever you feel like and without hesitation,” she said. “The program also got me into the habit of working out at the gym at least twice a week. Stephanie understands each participant’s needs and quickly adjusts the level of exercise so that nobody feels overwhelmed.”
Erin added that while her doctors saved her life as a patient LiveSTRONG has saved her life as a survivor.
Another cancer survivor and program participant Patty D. said she can not say enough about the LiveStrong program that she joined this fall.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, and because of the treatments and surgeries, not only have I lost muscle strength, range of motion and flexibility, I have also experienced a sense of isolation with difficulty navigating my way to “normal” as before,” she said.
Patty said this program has been a life saver for her and praised the work of Cook.
“(Stepahnie), you are an excellent coach, cheerleader and trainer with an abundance of wonderful energy and compassion,” said Patty. “I feel like I have finally taken the first steps towards a strong and balanced life now that I am a part of the LiveStrong program. I do hope that the program continues for many years into the future as it is a gift for all of us who have experienced cancer in our lives.”
The East Boston LiveSTRONG at the East Boston YMCA Starts Sept. 30, and the times are Monday/Wednesday 11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. Monday/Wednesday 5:30-6:45 p.m. Tuesday/Thursday 7-8:15 a.m. Contact Stephanie Cook at [email protected] for more details or to sign up.