Tampa YMCA celebrates cancer survivors

Brandon, FL - Working out is not always about staying in shape. For these cancer survivors, it's about staying healthy physically and mentally.

"It's always shocking when you find out you have cancer," said Diane Jorjensen, a 10-year cancer survivor.

This month, the YMCA celebrates cancer survivors with LIVESTRONG, a free 12-week program for cancer survivors and their family members.

"Once I started working out here I thought, 'Why didn't I do this sooner? Stay in shape, eat healthy and keep the cancer away,'" said Diane.

Participants work with Y staff -- trained in supportive cancer care -- to achieve their goals. Studies show moderate levels of physical activity can reduce fatigue, boost self-esteem, and improve muscle strength and endurance following treatment.

"Work out in a small group twice a week, just to help them rebuild their strength and recover from the treatments they received," said Wellness Director Jessica Rickenbach.

These cancer survivors say the LIVESTRONG program not only has helped them out physically, but emotionally too.

For Wellness Director Jessica Rickenbach, it's a program that she would want her mom to be a part of.

"My mom was diagnosed with cancer and it's a really scary thing, but one of the first things she said was, 'Now I can join your LIVESTRONG program,' and so to be able to have a program that I'm confident that even my mom is going to have a great experience in, it's just a really wonderful thing."

The staff says by focusing on the whole person and not the disease, LIVESTRONG at the YMCA helps people move beyond cancer in spirit, mind and body.

"Sometimes they lose their identity through treatment... their bodies change in ways they're not expecting and we're just here to help them find their new normal," said Jessica.


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