October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and charities and companies across the country will go pink to support research, prevention and treatment efforts. To help cancer survivors reclaim their total health, the Fond du Lac Family YMCA offers a free, 12-week cancer recovery program for survivors and their family, and hopes to expand the length of that program in 2019.
Called LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA, this evidence-based program has impacted the lives of 125 adults in Fond du Lac since launching in 2016. Participants work with Y staff trained in supportive cancer care to safely achieve goals related to strength, flexibility, and endurance, while building confidence. By focusing on the whole person and not the disease, the program helps people move beyond cancer in spirit, mind, and body.
The goal for 2019 is to add an additional 12 weeks of support to survivors in the program, who would benefit from participating in the Stronger Together program. This extended program would enable LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA Alumni to continue pursuing wellness and support after completion of the initial 12-week program, through weekly meetings and exercise classes, and an extended YMCA family membership.
The Y is an inclusive organization of men, women and children joined together by a shared commitment to strengthening community by upholding our core values of respect, responsibility, honesty and caring. LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA is an example of how the Y works to strengthen community and improve health in Fond du Lac.
“Cancer is a life-changing disease that takes a tremendous physical and emotional toll,” said MJ Neumann, Wellness Coordinator at the Fond du Lac Family YMCA. “The Y is here not only to help cancer survivors reclaim their health, but to provide a supportive comfortable community when they need it most.”
Joan Geiger participated in LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA 14 months after she began her cancer journey, after two rounds of chemotherapy and major surgery left her feeling very weak. Geiger states, “I needed to find a way to deal with the physical side effects and yes, some emotional ones too. I found it (joining the program) such a blessing on many levels. The instructors were absolutely amazing. They made me feel welcome. They were so supportive and encouraging not only of the physical aspects, but also the emotional and spiritual aspects.” She continues, “Sharing our stories, supporting and encouraging each other was so special.”
Participant Amy Fitzpatrick says about the program, “I had such a wonderful experience with LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA . I loved the staff, they were so caring. They made sure to be very thorough with all aspects of exercise and I obtained helpful nutritional guidance to keep me as healthy as possible.”
The LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program has transformed the lives of many participants and hopes to continue to do this important work for years to come. The Y’s annual fundraising event, “Eat. Play. LIVESTRONG.” is planned for Saturday, November 3rd, to help raise funds to do just that.
“Our goal for 2019 is to be able to provide 72 survivors the support they need through the LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program, says JJ Raflik, Associate Executive Director at the Fond du Lac Family YMCA. “We are hoping to expand our current program from a 3 month program to a 6 month program, offering Survivors and their families an additional 3 months of support. Our fundraising event hopes to be able to raise the funds needed to extend our program,” says Raflik.
The community is invited to attend “Eat. Play. LIVESTRONG.” Tickets are available online at fdlymca.org, in person at the Fond du Lac Family YMCA, or tables of 4 or 6 can be reserved by contacting JJ Raflik at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the fundraising event can be found at fdlymca.org.
For more information about LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA, and to find out when the program is offered, please visit fdlymca.org.