I deal in hope : Carolyn R Scheidies

Blog: YMCA program encourages cancer survivors

After Keith retired he wasn’t as active as when he had a regular work schedule. He did walk most days at home, but our daughter started searching for something more. She found a new program at the YMCA that seemed a perfect fit–the Livestrong program. We checked it out and it looked promising. The facilitator of the program, Brooke White, was very available, reaching out in any way possible to answer questions and to help and to encourage.

We have learned that not all YMCAs have this pilot program. But the Kearney YMCA staff went after this program because they saw a need for just such a program. Doing so took much time and effort, The effort paid off and they were given the go-ahead to offer the program for cancer survivors at the Kearney facility.

It costs nothing to join the 12-week program and a pass to YMCA is included. Keith signed up to attend the evening program that was held Monday and Wednesday.  His stage 4 cancer is considered, “In remission with treatment.” That means his numbers are stable as long as he continues treatment. Not sure if that makes him a cancer survivor or simply someone who has survived much longer than at first predicted when the cancer was discovered. I’m just glad he’s still with us.

Keith wasn’t sure what to expect when he headed to the YMCA for that first session. It didn’t take him long to get into the swing of his new schedule. In fact, he seemed almost eager to go most of the time.

What he discovered was a group of like-minded individuals who bonded throughout the program. Livestrong offered information and inspirational sessions along with individualized exercise on different machines, swimming and more. Everyone was cheered on by staff and other participants, especially as they got acquainted. The exercise program is geared with individual strengths and weaknesses in mind. Each participant even had a journal to keep track of when and what the participants did each session.

Several weeks into the program, Keith visited his cancer doctor. These visits include labs and getting weighed. To our delight, without any other changes other than the Livestrong program, Keith had lost 10 pounds.

I attended the graduation ceremonies with Keith in early December. The staff and speaker were encouraging and were encouraged at the success of the program to help those who signed up. Though the program is over for this group, the participants have plans to continue to meet once a month.

I am thankful for this program and hope there will be a followup program down the line. Meanwhile, now that he’s in the habit, Keith plans to continue to go to the YMCA into the new year. He’s already seen positive benefits. Who knows the long-term benefits of continuing what he’s already learned.

Whatever our health, most of us can benefit from a resolution to regular exercise. May the new year bring better health not only to these intrepid cancer survivors, but also all who make a commitment to healthy exercise.

Have a happier New Year with a commitment to healthy habits–including exercise.

By Carolyn R Scheidies

My column Published in Kearney Hub 12/31/2018



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