Beating cancer is a tremendous feat. Treatment takes so much out of the patient but also their friends and family. And don’t forget about recovery. Trying to navigate life after cancer can be difficult. That’s where LiveStrong steps in.
The LiveStrong Foundation was created in 1997 with the express purpose of helping fellow cancer survivors and their families through and beyond a cancer diagnosis. Rebekkah Schear, LiveStrong Foundation Manager, Community Programs and Engagement, shares, “A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming between deciding on treatment, figuring out finances, and dealing with fear and emotional concerns. That’s why we’re here: to make sure people and families get the person-centered care they need, at the time when they need it.”
LiveStrong is a 12-week program dedicated to providing a viable means of physical activity and rehabilitation to individuals post-treatment. The program centers on the individuals physical abilities and personal goals. Goals may include the regeneration of strength and muscle mass post chemotherapy and surgery, improving overall cardiovascular health and endurance as well as the improvement of flexibility and basic functional skills used in daily life.
Since 2007, the LiveStrong Foundation has partnered with the YMCA in a greater effort to provide meaningful services and support to cancer survivors within local communities. The program has grown to over 400 YMCA locations nationally. The Rochester Area Family YMCA LiveStrong program’s certified instructors are required to participate in numerous training field disciplines that include basic healthy lifestyle principles, CPR and even extensive courses in lymphedema (lymphedema is swelling in the arms and/or legs, a common side-effect of cancer treatment). All this preparation helps them to be better suited in providing survivors the best possible care.
The LiveStrong program not only offers survivors the opportunity to improve their overall physical wellbeing but, equally as important, it gives them a foundation to build their emotional recovery as well. The program allows the survivors to bring friends and family every step of the way. Chandini Portteus, LiveStrong Foundation President and CEO, notes, “Here at LiveStrong, we’re inspired by the stories we hear from the brave cancer survivors we meet, and we work every day to help ease the stress of their cancer diagnosis. No one should face cancer alone.”
Fran Johnson of Kasson, Minn., graduated from the program early in 2015. She says she joined because she knew chemo was making her weaker and she wanted to be stronger. She gained much more than muscle mass, however. “I discovered I had joined a community of people with whom I had a unique shared experience—chemo—that many of my friends and family had not experienced…we discussed diet, hair regrowth and laughed and cried together.” It is this sense of commonality that LiveStrong provides to its participants. Because of the program, Fran says she has a group of lifelong friends she will always cherish.
For additional information, email LiveStrong@rochfamy.org.