“What’s Next After the Big C?”
Earlier this fall, seven women of different ages and from different walks of life gathered at the Jerry Long Family YMCA to share a meal and celebrate the end of their LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA session.
The day was bittersweet. During the 12 week program, they had formed close bonds. Each of the women had something in common – a battle with breast cancer. The conversation flowed about their experience in the program, coping with diagnosis and treatment, and how they look at life differently now. Here are a few of those reflections:
On diagnosis and life after cancer…
“We’ve all had that diagnosis. Everyone here has gotten that call: you have cancer.”
“It doesn’t matter if you have lots of money or nothing to your name. Cancer is a great equalizer.”
“Cancer made me stop and look at life. It’s a humbling experience, but now I am better.”
“I think when you’re at the point that your hair is growing back and you’re feeling a little better, you start to wonder: what’s next? What’s next after the big ‘C?’ The answer is LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA.”
On LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA…
“In the program, we could relate to other women who have been there or are going through [treatment]. I think part of what made this session so special was that we are all women with the same diagnosis. Sometimes you just need to lift up your shirt and show another woman who has the same surgery scars and radiation burns. It helps you heal.”
“It’s very intimidating to go into the gym. I wanted to try the machines, but didn’t know where to start. I thought you had to wear spandex. Now we look like we belong. We’re empowered.”
“We got to learn new things about exercise and laugh a lot. This was a chance to laugh instead of cry.”
“I saw a difference in myself as I was part of this program. I was excited about doing something for me besides going to the hospital.”
As the woman exchanged gifts, handmade goodies and handcrafted cards to mark their time together, one shared a poem she had written to commemorate her experience:
We came here not knowing, what we’d find, or who we’d meet.
The program’s name was “Livestrong”, putting cancer in retreat.
Our instructors were our guides, unlocking hidden doors.
Each day brought new surprises, as they filled us from our core.
The weeks just clicked on by, and left us wanting more.
We found new strengths in muscles, mind, body and so much more.
One door, said “You can do it.” Knowing we will never quit.
For we are tending a temple of God, reaping blessings, when well and fit.
Each member is now a friend, like jewels in a crown.
And the whole world seems to sparkle, wherever they’re around
So the program may be over, but we pray our journey’s long.
Each day we can face tomorrow, we live as we live strong.
- Betty Johnson Hicks
After treatment, cancer survivors may not know where to turn to regain physical and emotional strength. LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA is a research-based program that provides a safe, supportive environment focused on strengthening the whole person. Funded by donations to our Annual Giving Campaign, the program is now available at 11 branches. Click here for more information.