Cancer survivors have the opportunity to start getting back on their feet through a program offered at the Providence YMCA-Ball Family Center.
The 12-week Livestrong at the YMCA program is based on research about physical activity and well-being, said Cherrie Castro, healthy living director at the Providence YMCA.
“We teach them how to do physical activities through their treatment or post-treatment, depending on where they are in their walk with cancer,” Castro said. “We do assessments at the beginning of 12 weeks.”
The program is free for cancer survivors, who work a minimum of twice a week, an hour and a half, with more time recommended, she said.
Anywhere from 15 to 17 people usually sign up for the sessions.
Castro believes there’s a real need for the program.
“A lot of times, cancer survivors, once they get to the end of their medical regimen, think that’s it,” she said. “A lot of times, the medication and treatment to put cancer into remission leave us feeling fatigued and tired, so it’s important to learn how exercise can help. You can combat fatigue and nausea with exercise.”
Treatment varies greatly, with some cancer patients simply needing one surgery, while others receive radiation, chemotherapy, and some are in a lifetime fight, she added.
“A lot of times people think they’re better and it’s over,” Castro said. “The road can be long sometimes. We talk about physical activity and show them how to do that. We talk about nutrition. It’s a real support group, too.”
The Livestrong at the YMCA name continues with this program, months after Sporting Park dropped the Livestrong name following a scandal involving Lance Armstrong. Nothing about this program has changed, Castro said. “It still doesn’t change how good the program is and what we do,” she added.
The YMCA does a lot of fundraising for this program currently, she said. They don’t want to turn anyone away.
There’s a fundraising run in July each year, and on Oct. 4 the Providence YMCA will sponsor a three-hour fundraising Zumba workout to raise money. The event is from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, at the Providence YMCA-Ball Family Center, 8601 Parallel Parkway, Kansas City, Kan.
The donation will be $5 for an individual and $10 for a family to participate, with all proceeds going to the cancer survivors program. The public may drop in and participate in the fundraiser.
Castro has a unique perspective that she shares with other cancer survivors. A cancer survivor herself, she has been at the YMCA for nine months as healthy living director.
“It’s very important to me,” she said about the cancer survivor program at the YMCA. She did not go through the program, as there was nothing like this available at the time she went through treatment.
“I’m blessed enough that fitness has always been part of my life and always made me feel better,” Castro said.
Once she had finished her cancer treatments, however, she didn’t have any direction for fitness.
“It was kind of tough,” Castro said. “That is why this is important – at the end of the illness, to get back to wellness and feel as good as you did or better.”
Anyone with questions about the cancer survivors program may call the Providence YMCA at 913-378-9622. A new series of classes starts in October.