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We walked in as broken people – LIVESTRONG

February 13, 2023

In 2015 Lodema Lines was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. It then became clear why she felt so tired for the last five years. She then learned about the YMCA LIVESTRONG program through her oncologist and decided to look into it.

Fast forward to 2022 with the encouragement of the Community South Cancer Center and the YMCA Livestrong Program, Lodema’s life changed. “My group leader, Carolyn Naumovich, led and motivated our group to succeed. Out of the six people who started the program, five of us, including myself, stuck with the weekly workouts and joined the Y and made it our second home. We all made beautiful connections as a group and now continue as friends to keep going as a team. This is just the beginning of something beautiful and I’m now stronger physically and mentally and I love who I am.”

Livestrong helps cancer survivors in post rehabilitation

The LIVESTRONG program gives cancer survivors the opportunity to participate in customized exercise regimens from certified fitness instructors that are catered to their individual needs. The instructors are trained in cancer survivorship, post-rehabilitation exercise and supportive cancer care. Survivors, and often their families, receive a membership at the YMCA for the duration of the program. The program is offered for free or low-cost at the discretion of each YMCA location.

Lodema didn’t always feel confident that the program would meet her needs. “I did have doubts, but I still signed up for the program. I had some ongoing health problems and had to quit after a couple of weeks. I had to have surgery and after recovering I asked my oncologist if she would sign the papers for me to participate the second time. She did, and the rest is history.”

Physical activity and diet are key factors in the LIVESTRONG program because research has shown that a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle can increase a person’s cancer risks. According to the American Cancer Society, below is a list of things you can do:

  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout life
  • Be physically active on a regular basis
  • Follow a healthy eating pattern at all ages
  • Avoid or limit alcohol
  • The evidence for this is strong. The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that at least 18% of all cancers diagnosed in the US are related to body fatness, physical inactivity, alcohol consumption, and/or poor nutrition, and thus could be prevented.

Weight control is an area where many people struggle. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Getting to and staying at a healthy weight is important to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several cancers, including those of the breast (in women past menopause), colon and rectum, endometrium (the lining of the uterus), esophagus, pancreas, liver, and kidney, as well as several others.
  • Being overweight can increase cancer risk in many ways. One of the main ways is that excess weight causes the body to make and circulate more estrogen and insulin, hormones that can stimulate cancer growth.

Lodema continued, “we walked in as broken people and in the LIVESTRONG program we learned that it’s all in what you make it. Your will has to be greater than your ‘I can’t.’”

LIVESTRONG at the YMCA focuses on the whole person, not the disease. The FREE, 12-week program meets twice a week for 90 minutes, using traditional exercise methods to ease survivors back into fitness and help them maintain a healthy weight.

The staff has been trained to work with cancer survivors and patients and follow American College of Sports medicine and American Cancer Society exercise guidelines. For more information, please email us at changemylife@indymca.org or call 317.269.6004.

Lodema’s final words of advice are, “be patient, change takes time. Any amount of physical activity is better than none.”

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