The Evergreen Times
March 18, 2019
By Kevin Larsen, Times Staff Writer
Living Strong-Living Well 12 week program
YMCA has joined with Stanford to provide a free strength fitness program. LSLW (Living Strong Living Well) is a 12-week program now being offered free of charge to adults who recently experienced a battle with cancer at the Evergreen-East Valley Family YMCA and other selected locations in the Bay Area. Some enter the program while in treatment too. The goal is to enhance spirit, mind, and body for those confronting the disease. Participants meet two times a week for 75-minute sessions offered at no cost thanks to the generous support of donors.
Goals of the program
The Living Strong Living Well program offers support so that one can meet new friends and charge together in learning and defending their bodies against the foe called cancer. The warm small group setting composed of certified staff provides personalized attention to each participant to expertly meet their individual needs.
The program uses exercise machines as well as time for stretching to help guide each participant through their choreographed paces and nurture their total unique health needs. Some key areas focused upon are; reducing side effects of treatment, addressing weight changes, support for how to gain energy and confidence and help in planning continuing activities after the program comes to a close.
One participant stated, “When I finished chemo, I had no energy, muscle tone, strength for stamina and a decrease in coordination and memory. I started the Living Strong Living Well Program and began walking and then lifting minimal weights. I felt better physically and my memory improved. Now I exercise regularly. The staff understood my limitations and encouraged me along the way.”
In speaking with caregivers, other factors also became apparent in the recovery process. For example, taste buds may deplete the flavor of foods. Appetite may change. Survivors of cancer often experience a “de-conditioning” and have a lack of energy causing them to become chronically fatigued.
Certified trainers Misty and John are heroes
It is seen while observing in the area that houses over a hundred various training machines called the “Wellness Center,” that John and Misty offer meaningful encouragement. One person stated, “It’s amazing what they do for there is a passion seen in how they help others and one just realizes that they give of themselves in a very deep level.” This backs up the meaning of the word “Family” stated on the front of the building of the East Valley
Trainer John states, “With my experience over the past five years in teaching the class, it makes me feel good to see participants grow in strength from the beginning to the end of the class and succeed in their goals. For example, one participant built up their balance skills and everyone witnessed confidence in their walking.” “Doctors often refer people to our program and suggest the class to build strength,” said John. “The first days we do testing to measure ability balance and strength and we get an idea of what a person can do. We help decide which machines are capable of being used. The length of visit varies, and we work the sessions on how the participants feel in that some sessions might last 15 minutes while others, the entire time. We always end the sessions with stretching exercises.” A wellness coordinator at the “Y” explained that the stretch time helps not only the body but allows the individual to bond with the group and know that they are not alone in their journey. Another instructor named Misty shared, “Every participant comes to the program at a different level of fitness due to the types of treatment he or she may be undergo- ing: cancer medications, chemotherapy and so forth.” Misty shared her personal story about losing her dad and her brother to cancer and expressed that the Living Strong Living Well program at YMCA is very dear to her. She said, “When I experienced my dad and brother dying of cancer, I thought to myself, if I had to bring back all the stars from the night sky to save them, I would have. After that, I returned to the YMCA motivated to do all I could for the living. I knew, and I know that I could positively impact the people with the knowledge I have.” Misty went on to explain, “What I like most about the program is that I get to witness the transformation in the participants. I see their faces glow, and they become more happy and energized. It seems I am making an impact on their lives. I feel a deep sense of gratitude.” Misty states that each day when she wakes she thinks about the word “gratitude” and "how it is so vital to make the best of each day we are given."
Everyone cares about each other
An experience shared by the YMCA staff: one participant had not shown up to the program for a long period of time, so a friend reached out and asked if they were OK. This element of connectivity and care allowed the family to invite many over to see the individual. The person was not doing well and a day was set for others to visit. After the group visited, the spouse called the next day to thank all and said, that night their partner passed, but it was a beautiful thing that so many came to say hello. It was thought that the person hung on to make sure to say thank you to all who visited to wish them well.
Cancer grabs many
Staff at the Y explained that cancer touches just about everybody whether a family member or friend. It was noted that participants are inspiring and positive and always “focusing forward” in their lives.
Everyone witnesses participants walk through and make it to the other side with grace. The participants teach happiness for they look at things more positively though they may be in a cancer battle. It is not that one can compare the quality of life and struggle from one body to another it is instead about the creation of a positive atti- tude and the importance of living with joy no matter what cards they are dealt. Those who battle cancer help inspire all by their view on life.
The YMCA 12 week Live Strong Live Well program is free to those that meet the criteria.
To learn more about the program, visit your local YMCA in-person or online at www.ymcasv.org. Perhaps one of the most beautiful gifts one can get in joining the program is the appreciation of knowing that everyone is safe and connected. It’s all about not feeling alone and knowing everybody is family.
Editor’s Note; This program is subject to availability at no cost to participants and is not a source of revenue to Stanford or the YMCA. To find the YMCA participating locations and register go to lslw.stanford.edu Information pamphlets are available at EAST VALLEY FAMILY YMCA; 1975 S. White Road San Jose, CA 95148; 408-715- 6500.
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