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I Didn’t Know How Much I Needed This

July 17, 2023
NEWS + STORIES

According to the American Cancer Society, studies show that cancer patients with strong emotional support tend to adjust better to the many changes the disease brings to their lives. They often have a more positive outlook and describe a better quality of life.

Showing support can make a big difference in the life of someone with cancer. Hearing words like, "We'll get through this together,” “You're not facing cancer alone,” and "I am praying for you" can bring immense comfort and encouragement.

This is the kind of support and encouragement Karin and Patricia heard during the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program at the Fishers YMCA this past spring. They both heard about the program from a list of resources received from their local hospital. At first, Karin wasn’t really feeling inspired to look into the program, but then thought to herself, “I never take the time to do something for myself.” Looking back, it was the best decision she could have made. She now says, “I didn’t know how much I needed this until I went through the program.”

Patricia echoes similar thoughts. “Our Teacher, Mary Alice (who is a cancer survivor herself) was the key to our connections. Our class total was five participants including Mary Alice. It could have been a bit larger, but I, personally, loved the intimacy. We were able to share our journeys, our family photos and our connections! I am, personally, so grateful for this program and I feel it should be mandatory... or at least highly recommended.”

Karin, an educator and mother of four, who prides herself on being healthy and fit, was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer and the subsequent treatments greatly compromised her activities. Fortunately, the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program helped strengthen her confidence and encouraged her to persevere and dig deep to restart her fitness journey again.

“Our group was so supportive! I was sad about the classes ending and I’m a very busy person. However, these meetings were the highlight of my day.” Karin

Patricia, a retired art director and mother of three adult children and wife for 32 years (and counting) enrolled in the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program following her second breast cancer diagnosis in December of 2020. Although she was surrounded by a very supportive family, no one understood what she was experiencing like the survivors in her LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program.

“I didn’t realize how much it would help my mental strength. Not enough people know about this program. You don’t know what you’re missing.” Patricia

Karin and Patricia both agree that their eclectic group of five participants would never have met under normal circumstances. But, as cancer survivors, their battle against a common enemy built a special bond. Despite every path being unique and knowing that no one has the same experience, they came together to offer unconditional support for each other and learned how to be present. This unique group of cancer fighters still sends and receives occasional text messages with updates on their journeys that remind them that they are not alone.

Cancer survivors are strong and brave individuals. Most of them will never ask for help, even though they need it. If you know someone who’s battling cancer (a friend or a family member), it’s important not to ask what you can do to help. Instead, jump in and do whatever you can to make things easier for them. Take them a meal. Go with them to an appointment. Listen to their stories and hold their hand. Offer to watch the kids or walk the dog. Every little bit helps to let them know you’re there to help them get through it.

LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is a 12-week program that meets twice a week for 90 minutes with a focus on exercise, nutrition, building muscle mass, strength, flexibility, endurance, confidence, self-esteem, stress reduction, etc. The program is built around a warm spirit of community where survivors can find comfort and share inspirational stories. For more information, please email changemylife@indymca.org or call 317.269.6004. Also, to help others in the community have access to the LIVESTRONG program, give monthly and become a Champion of Change.

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