Relying on the Strength of Community
When Valerie Zimmerman started the LIVESTRONG at the Y program, it was right when she needed it most.
She first learned about it in March of this year, through her social worker at the hospital where she was receiving cancer treatment. But she couldn’t start class until June, which was perfect timing for her. By that time, she has already been through the worst of her cancer treatment and was at her weakest.
Her aggressive treatment for breast cancer left her tired. And when she started the LIVESTRONG program, it was very taxing. “Once I started, I could tell within the 12-week period that I got stronger physically and through support of the group, I got mentally and spiritually stronger.”
LIVESTRONG at the Y is not just about gaining physical strength. The program matches cancer survivors with specially trained personal trainers who can prescribe a physical program that is tailored to their needs. It also integrates them into a small group of people who are on a similar path to recovery.
Imagining More Ways to Feel Normal
“It was not just training on the different equipment, but listening to other people’s stories. It was about having somebody to lean on who had gone through what you’re going through that was really beneficial. I loved that part of the program.” And it was a place to ask questions of people who had been through the same experiences like losing their eyebrows.
“It sounds funny, but it really takes a lot of time to grow your eyebrows back after chemo. They would tell me their tricks to make them look natural. Things like that, that I could try myself.”
WEllness AS a Lifestyle
After the program, she was able to join the Finley Y through the Y’s financial assistance program and is now able to make regular visits to keep up her strength and get encouragement to stay on the path to overall wellness.
“Everybody here is so friendly, not just the personal trainers, but everyone. It’s like a family and that’s the way I feel when I come here. “
LIVESTRONG at the Y is one example of the ripple effect of the Annual Campaign. Programs like this help people not only gain encouragement and support to get them through a crisis, but also give them a base of community they can lean on for a lifetime.
Photos: Valerie with her son, Evan
Valerie's LIVESTRONG class