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Cancer survivors LIVESTRONG at the Y

January 2, 2012
By
The Russell Creek Family YMCA was selected to participate in the development of a national cancer survivorship health and wellness program to rebuild the physical and emotional foundations that chemotherapy, radiation and surgery help destroy.

Projected to begin around the first of February, the initiative is a dual collaboration between Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG Foundation and the YMCA of the USA, and involves research-based programs designed to focus on the specific wants, needs and interests of cancer survivors.

“We want to help improve the quality of life among cancer survivors, primarily through the implementation of exercise programs, based upon our findings through needs assessments in the community,” said Jason Killough, project manager for the Russell Creek Family YMCA. “Because the YMCA is uniquely positioned as an expert in the field of health and wellness, and because of our mission to provide programs for all, the LIVESTRONG Foundation has partnered with the YMCA to help this population.”

The overall goal of LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is to help local participants build muscle mass and strength, increase flexibility and endurance and improve their quality of life through post-rehabilitative exercise and supportive cancer care, Killough said.

Russell Creek’s participation will determine what types of fitness program will most effectively build supportive relationships among survivors, build partnerships and educate staff about cancer survivors. Working with focus groups comprised of local cancer survivors and oncology professionals, the YMCA developed customized programs and exercise classes that will accommodate participants who may have become less mobile or are more prone to fatigue, Killough said. The program will also assist in the improvement of the survivor’s ability to perform daily living activities, he added.

“This is not a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all program, but rather a design based upon what we discover from talking to survivors and professionals in our community,” Killough said.

There are many aspects to developing a customized fitness program for a cancer survivor. Before they can begin, each participant must go through a series of assessments to help instructors understand their energy levels and limitations. Well-lit, private changing areas and the presence of stools and chairs within the workout room are just some of amenities the YMCA will provide in preparation for the 12-week course.

Russell Creek Family YMCA staff attended training sessions designed by the YMCA of the USA that focus on strength and fitness for cancer survivors. The training process has been an eye-opening one for Health and Wellness Director Alice Carpenter, who said each of the instructors are also provided with a manual and have had guidance from the board of directors.

Once the program is rolled out, it will provide a combination of physical fitness and a support system of fellow survivors and coaches, all steps toward a positive rehabilitation on the path to recovery, Carpenter said.

“I know about fitness but I’m not an expert in cancer,” Carpenter said. “I learned about lymphedema, which is the swelling that people can get from having cancer. There were certain terms I didn’t know anything about before I went through the training. To be able to work out with these folks, they are going to need specific things for them for the specific type of cancer they’ve been through.”

For information about the Wellness Enhancement Program, contact Health and Wellness Director Alice Carpenter at 214-705-9459 or acarpenter@ymcadallas.org.

Article source: http://www.planostar.com/articles/2012/01/02/plano_star-courier/news/8418.txt

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