Cancer Survivors Find Confidence and Reduce Risk of Recurrence with Physical Activity
YMCA of Metropolitan Denver Offers Support Through LIVESTRONG
DENVER (April 4, 2017) – It is widely known that physical activity can lower the risk of cancer and other harmful diseases, but research now also suggests exercise may benefit cancer survivors, too. Studies show that cancer survivors who exercise regularly experience less fatigue and symptoms after treatment, which could lower their risk of recurrence. With that in mind, the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver is partnering with the nationally recognized LIVESTRONG Foundation to offer LIVESTRONG at the YMCA for free to all qualifying participants. Program participants who are not YMCA members as well as their caregivers will receive a free YMCA membership for the duration of the program.
With a combination of physical activities and group sharing and support, LIVESTRONG at the YMCA provides a positive and supportive environment for cancer survivors to test their limits and reclaim their health. Over a 12-week period, trained professional instructors guide participants to address the unique physical needs and safety concerns for those affected by cancer.
“Each person is given an individual assessment,” said LIVESTRONG at the YMCA instructor Becky Hummel. “They all have a lot in common but each struggle is very different. Every cancer survivor has a very different story.”
One such story is that of David Garrity. Seven years ago, cancer unknowingly began wreaking havoc on Garrity’s mind and body. It was not until 2014 that he was actually diagnosed after a large tumor had grown inside his chest. Garrity recently underwent five cycles of chemotherapy and is still living with prostate cancer. After years of feeling like his body was no longer his own, Garrity received an email from the Schlessman YMCA about a pilot program for cancer survivors and immediately knew it was meant for him. He was instantly welcomed by the Y staff and bonded with the other participants.
“It’s a sense of accomplishment. So much is taken from you that you don’t know what you’re capable of anymore physically,” said Garrity. “Having a shared experience and that sense of comradery with other people going through the same thing really gives you the confidence and the courage to make your way back.”
LIVESTRONG at the YMCA focuses on rebuilding muscle mass, slowly increasing endurance, boosting metabolism and improving health of the mind and spirit. Garrity’s group did everything from pickle ball to line dancing to stay active, but also had plenty of laughs along the way. Even after finishing the program, they still try to work out together and share stories when they can. Garrity hopes others will get involved in the program in the coming months.
When asked what advice he would give to other cancer survivors, Garrity stressed the importance of locating resources, showing up and overcoming the stigma that cancer is a solo battle. “We have to accept all parts of ourselves, even the darkness. Find some sort of connection or community and you won’t be sorry. It might even save your life.”
The Schlessman Family YMCA and the Downtown Denver YMCA branches are currently enrolling participants for the first official LIVESTRONG at the YMCA programs, with target start dates in April. The Littleton Family YMCA branch also plans to kick off Livestrong in May.
About the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver
A leading nonprofit, the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver strengthens communities by engaging and connecting individuals, families and seniors through youth development and healthy living values-based programs. Each year, the Y brings together over 68,000 children, teens, members, and volunteers through a variety of programs and services at its five branches and 75 program locations across metro Denver. The Y is one of 2,700 YMCA organizations nationwide, collectively helping more than 21 million people learn, grow and thrive. To join, donate or get more information, visit www.denverymca.org.