New YMCA Program Helping Cancer Survivors Live Strong

Three words, you have cancer.

Those words can be devastating and life altering.

A new program being offered at a Lexington YMCA is helping cancer survivors put the disease behind them and instead focus on their health through group exercise.

They call themselves "The Swarm" and each week they meet at the North side YMCA on West Loudon Avenue in Lexington.

The group of eight shares more than just a need to exercise, they are all survivors.

"I was diagnosed with breast cancer early November 2010," said Terri Jones, a member of the Swarm.

Jones and her fellow members of The Swarm are all cancer survivors, each with a different story of how cancer changed their lives, but together its their common bond.

The group is part of a new program being offered at the YMCA, called LIVESTRONG.

"It was part of the puzzle that just fit, which was the physical fitness and nutrition which is what I didn't know to do," said Jones.

For twelve weeks trainers work with the group to give them back what cancer may have taken away.

"This is a new area, many oncologists that we work with will tell you this is a new area, studies are just coming out on how exercise does contribute to and even help cancer patients in some way," said Melissa Bellew a Wellness Specialist at the Y.

LIVESTRONG was created by the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Its free to anyone with a cancer diagnosis.

The program is not only exercise based, but has a holistic approach as well as spiritual components designed for cancer survivors.

"The mental gains they get from this, they way they feel about their bodies, the way that they are able to progress and regain strength and the power that they've lost through these cancer treatments is undefinable," said Bellew.

For eight weeks now these survivors have been walking, lifting and most importantly leaning on each other for support and for Terri Jones that is healing.

"The eight of us have built a bond that I'm sure will never be broken," said Jones.

LIVESTRONG is funded through a grant, while its a pilot program now, the Y will add two more LIVESTRONG sessions in October, one in the evening and one in the morning.

Those wishing to participate just need a cancer diagnosis and a release from their physicians.

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