World Cancer Day February 4th

Harlan’s Livestrong Story

My name is Harlan. I am a colon cancer survivor.  My surgery and the 6 months of chemo treatments that followed, left me very weak.  I attempted exercising on my own, without much success.  Then, my wife saw a Livestrong brochure at the YMCA of Broome County. We read that this free program guided a group of cancer survivors through a monitored exercise program using the equipment and exercise classes at the Y. The goal was to increase endurance and physical strength over a twelve-week period. I signed up.

The first step into the program was meeting with a member of the staff at the Y and reviewing my personal health history. The final step required an approval from my doctor to participate. His okay allowed me to join the ninth YMCA of Broome County Livestrong class.

For three months, we met twice a week in two-hour Livestrong/YMCA Staff-monitored classes. The first session consisted of tests to determine our endurance, balance and strength. They used these results to determine the proper settings and/or initial weight load on each piece of equipment, both aerobic and weight machines. They trained us to use all the equipment in a safe manner, to prevent injury. Finally, they laid out a routine, starting with the aerobic machines, followed by the weight equipment. From week two on, we met as a group at the beginning to talk about any problems or concerns.  I valued these very therapeutic conversations with other cancer survivors. We felt safe in our cancer kinship; we experienced a mutual understanding of our situations and physical limitations. The staff at the Y was great at facilitating these sessions.  Then we broke and began our work-outs in the Wellness Center. We started and finished our routines on aerobic machines. I preferred the rowing machines and the stationary bicycles. Then we rotated through the weight equipment. The staff closely monitored us to ensure we setup these machines correctly and used them safely. We spent the final part of our class sampling the many group exercise classes offered at the Y. These classes were both pool and land-based. We tried floor-based Yoga and Pilates, as well as chair-based exercise routines. We found the water fitness classes lowered the impact on our joints, while adding water resistance. The staff retested us in our final class.  The improvement in our endurance, strength and balance amazed us!

I discovered many benefits from the Livestrong at the YMCA of Broome County:

  1. Financial hardships due to the cost of cancer treatments make affording a gym membership very difficult. Livestrong allowed each participant 12 weeks of unlimited membership at both the Binghamton and West Family YMCA of Broome Facilities.
  2. Going to a gym for the first time can be very scary. Livestrong gives you the support to enable you to conquer those fears.
  3. I was able to see tangible results from the exercise.
  4. I established good exercise habits that I still practice over 4 years later.
  5. I found such community, I joined the YMCA! My membership allows me to use all the exercise programs on a regular schedule. I have especially benefitted from the Core Strength, Yoga and Zumba classes.
  6. I built enough endurance, I also joined a hiking club.


The Livestrong program made me much stronger and healthier. I am very happy Livestrong helped me improve my quality of life!

Want more information about the YMCA of Broome County LIVESTRONG program for cancer survivors and their support person?

If you are interested in joining LIVESTRONG contact Sue at 770-9622 ext. 430