Finding out about the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program on Facebook was a game changer for recent participant Phyllis S. “I was home on chemo and I was on Facebook, and I noticed the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program pop up. I saw that the West Shore YMCA had a program for cancer patients and survivors.” Phyllis decided to come to the West Shore YMCA and participate in the 12-week program developed specifically for cancer survivorship to improve her overall wellness.
LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA, a small-group program developed and established in partnership with the LIVESTRONG Foundation, assists those who are living with, through, or beyond cancer to strengthen their spirit, mind, and body. Recent research from the Yale Cancer Center and Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Institute confirmed that LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA participants experience improved fitness and quality of life as well as significant decreases in cancer-related fatigue. “The LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program is offered at no charge to cancer survivors at any stage of their survivorship,” shared Michelle Lobingier, Senior Wellness Director and LIVESTRONG® instructor. “I am fortunate enough to be one of the trainers for this program and I get to work with these participants who leave different people than when they started.”
The program has served more than 30,000 cancer survivors in more than 400 communities across the nation. It is open to adults 18 years or older at no cost and includes a Family membership to the Harrisburg Area YMCA for the length of the program. Sessions include cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, balance and flexibility exercises, tailored to the individual participant and their ability. Phyllis said “I loved the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program because it really has helped me on my journey. What my oncologist had said was true – cancer patients do much better when they exercise. Not only do I feel stronger, I feel like I have more energy.”
“Phyllis utilized the program and the Y as much as she could for the 12 weeks,” said Michelle. “She was here many days just taking classes on her own or walking on the inside track, just really embracing the opportunity that was made available to her.” According to the American Cancer Society, a growing number of studies have looked at the impact of physical activity on cancer recurrence and long-term survival. (Cancer recurrence is cancer that comes back after treatment.) Exercise has been shown to improve cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, body composition, fatigue, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, happiness, and several quality-of-life factors in cancer survivors. At least 20 studies of people with breast, colorectal, prostate, and ovarian cancer have suggested that physically active cancer survivors have a lower risk of cancer recurrence and improved survival compared with those who are inactive.
“I feel so much better about myself,” said Phyllis. “I feel like I’ve accomplished something, and that’s what’s really important, that it’s not just about the exercise, it’s about feeling good about yourself. I have strongly recommended LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA to other cancer patients who I have met at the doctor’s office, at church, in my community, and I have mentioned how worthwhile the program has been for me.”
“I believe the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program makes the Y so much more than a gym and a pool. We’re bringing people into our facility at no charge to find their way back to health and strength, not just to pump iron or jump on a machine and get a little sweat going,” said Michelle. “We can’t do this program without the support of so many special organizations and people. And we can’t do that without the funding and the help from the community, so from the bottom of my heart, thank you.” Phyllis said, “I’m so glad I finally opened up that post on Facebook because the YMCA has changed my life.”
–Madeline Kelly, Digital Communications Coordinator