Joyce Finds a New Beginning at the YMCA Following Retirement


Joyce retired from 21 year career as an educator 3½ years ago.  Her role as a 3rd grade teacher offered many rewards…seeing children discover their potential and years of friendship with her colleagues. However, the position also made physical demands on her, especially after her double knee replacements. In addition to her full-time job, Joyce held dual roles of caregiving. As an only child, she carried sole responsibility for her aged mom. She also pitched in to help with her grandchildren, when her schedule allowed. The cumulative stress affected her health. Her doctor surprised her when she informed Joyce test results indicated pre-diabetes.


Joyce made the decision the fall following her retirement to rebuild her own health and wellness. She joined a 9 am water fitness class at the West Family YMCA. The pool offered her the impact-free workout her doctor prescribed for her knees. Joyce also discovered another positive benefit, socialization. She shared fun, laughter and encouragement within her new circle of friends. As her “pool pals” floated and chatted before and after class, she found others faced the similar parental care issues. Joyce valued their insights and “I get it,” empathy when her mom’s health failed enough to require challenging decisions about round the clock care. The 45 minutes also provided Joyce with “a water-soluble, de-stressor workout” that kept her pre-diabetes in check.


After retirement, Joyce also took on an exciting role, childcare provider. She began watching her grandchildren, ages 5, 3 and 8 months, 3 days a week. Thankfully, the water fitness class helped her joints and improved her mobility. Her newly acquired functional fitness allows her to keep up with them, get them to their activities…and enjoy the time they share.


Joyce said the YMCA classes and walks in her neighborhood helped her to shed some weight, lower her stress level and improve her health!


Joyce says of her YMCA experience:

The pool time is when your mind can forget all of life’s issues, just relax and take a break from real life for 45 minutes.

The Y is a great place for caregivers (or anyone) to meet kind, compassionate and positive people. YMCA friendships encourage you to stay committed to your emotional and physical well-being, as well offering support in really difficult times.


12 Days of Fitness Challenge


Played pickleball? Brought a friend to class? Tried a new exercise? Stood on one foot as long as you can? Thanked a lifeguard for being on duty? The YMCA of Broome County’s 12 Days of Fitness Challenge has stirred up almost as much as excitement as the clatter of 8 reindeer prancing on a roof. The fun challenge, which started on December 11th and runs through December 22, provides a menu of 33 activities (like the ones above), in 4 different categories. Participants need only complete 8 activities, at least one from each category (Wellness Center, Pool, Land Group Exercise and Sports, Outdoors & More), to earn an ornament for their “tree.” Participants can may only earn one ornament per category per day. Completed trees will receive a star sticker and be entered in a drawing for three $50 YMCA gift cards!! Two additional winners who complete the challenge with 4 stickers from one category will also be drawn.


Winners will be announced on December 28th!


Wellness Coordinator, Leanne, says the YMCA of Broome hopes as members visit each of the 4 Wellness Departments that they discover the “so much more” the YMCA of Broome County offers. Steve, from the Wellness Center, says some members seeing the center for the first time, are surprised by all the machines and equipment available for their use. Community Health and Fitness Director, RoQue hopes this challenge will build community in the YMCA by providing options that allow members in every level of fitness to participate!


He added, “You can still complete the 12 Days of Fitness Challenge even if you begin on December 21st! (But, why wait until then?) Stop at Wellness Center or the Front Desk today for more details and your activity tree!               IMG_3444

The YMCA: Adrianne’s Community Go-To Place

The YMCA has been a go-to place in the community throughout my life. I first started at the Norwich YMCA in swim lessons when I was 5 years old. I made many lifelong friends there. My dad passed away just a few weeks before my 7th birthday. I will never forget how my mom found a way to make that hard day special; she threw a YMCA splash party for me and all my friends. I joined the Norwich Field Band in high school and again the Y was there. They hosted us before our championships at the Carrier Dome each year. From age 16 through 18, my mom and I bonded by getting memberships at the Y. We worked out together in the Fitness Center and yoga classes. The Y also provided a safe place for me while my mom worked. She dropped me off at the Y before her shift started and I took an early morning Spin Class. Then I walked to my grandma’s to catch the bus to school. After school I returned to the Y. I did homework or another work-out until my mom picked me up at the end of her shift.


I graduated from high school in 2011 and I moved to Johnson City to attend SUNY Broome. I only made it one semester as a full-time student because of finances. I dropped back to part-time and struggled through a rough patch of unemployment. So, I spent a lot of time volunteering at a church thrift shop. One of the other volunteers told me about the Membership Service job at the West Family YMCA. I applied and got the position…ending 15 months of joblessness. I found it rewarding working for the agency that had been there for me.



My afternoon Member Services shift allowed me to return to SUNY Broome for morning classes. I graduate this December with a Health Sciences degree. I’m also currently in my first semester of the Nursing Program and plan to graduate as a Registered Nurse in May 2019. My YMCA co-workers and members have supported and encouraged me in countless ways.



My favorite part of the YMCA is getting to know the members! I have made many friends and learned so much from them. My favorite class is Sue B.’s Shallow Aqua Intervals at West. It’s fantastic and gets your heart pumping. I appreciate the mutual accountability; other members tease me when I miss a class and “expect a good excuse” for my absence. I also enjoyed personal training with Diane, until homework deadlines got in the way of my workout time. I value working at place that makes a difference in our community. Last year I brought four friends to the annual YMCA Thanksgiving Dinner. They were very grateful because they wouldn’t have had a traditional meal, otherwise. They also picked out winter coats for themselves and their children donated by YMCA members.


I am truly thankful for each opportunity the YMCA has provided for me to live, grow and thrive in my community.


YMCA of Broome: Thankful for Community


Bless the Lord…and do not forget any of his benefits.

Psalm 103:2 NRSV


“I have not stopped giving thanks for you…” Ephesians 1:16 (NIV)


During this season of thankfulness, the YMCA of Broome would like to take a moment to express gratitude for the faithful support from YMCA staff, members, Board and volunteers, as well as the privilege of partnering with other agency and businesses. The combined effort allows the YMCA many excellent opportunities to serve our community, from the youngest children and their families, through senior adults.


Two recent YMCA events, Trunk or Treat and the annual Thanksgiving Meal offered safe, fun, activities for hundreds in our community. The new YMCA of Broome Branch Executive Director, Gerry Gessie, offered these comments:


Trunk or Treat:
My first YMCA of Broome Event, Trunk or Treat, was spectacular fun!  It was great seeing all of the YMCA Spirit! Several hundred Broome County residents lined-up along the north side of the West Family YMCA Branch facility. They chatted as they waited in their creative costumes for their turn to parade past the decorated cars and collect their treats from each of the trunks. The late afternoon event also included a free pumpkin, outdoor games, as well as crafts in the Game Room and mini-plastic pumpkin hunts in the pool.
We are truly thankful for the hours of efforts decorating and generosity of the 25 Trunk teams (Approximately 50 volunteers and pounds and pounds of treats.) We also had a significant candy donation from Mirabito. The Halloween-themed music, the other YMCA staff and volunteers on the campus made for a great time for time with families, friends, and colleagues!

Community Turkey Dinner

It always feels nice to give and that was in tall order for the YMCA’s Community Turkey Dinner. The grateful feelings expressed by the over 200 people in attendance overwhelmed me and many others. On the way in and on the way out, individuals and entire families conveyed their thankfulness for the nice meal, as well as the opportunity to relax and spend time with caring neighbors.


The YMCA of Broome extends much thanks to all who donated two dozen turkeys, homemade pies and an assortment of other trimmings to the feast. Special thanks to the YMCA’s School Age Child Care kids for the adorable table setting. Very much appreciated, also, are the tireless efforts of the YMCA Staff, members, board and other volunteers, including entire families, who set-up, prepared, seated and served in any way on Sunday, November 12, 2017. One of the youngest volunteers, 5-year-old Emmy, smiled as she pitched in for her second year, wearing an over-sized set of gloves.

What a very special afternoon of giving thanks and fellowship!


Three more YMCA Traditional Community Events are scheduled during the month of December. Hope you can join us:

Angel Tree, November 25-December 18th: makes gifts possible for our Supportive Housing Residents

Snorkel With Santa on Saturday, December 9th, 2017, fun time for families

Resolution Run: 5k Walk/Run, Sunday, December 31st, Noon

4blog 11blog

YMCA Community Member, Birdie, Takes 2nd Place in National Special Olympics Golf and 1st in Bowling!

The YMCA of Broome County celebrates Birdie, YMCA community member and outstanding athlete. She took second place nationally after finishing first at the Special Olympics Regional Tournament held at EnJoie Golf Course on Columbus Weekend. Then, on October 22,2017, she took 2nd place in the Regional Special Olympics Bowling Tournament. She competed on November 19th in the NY State tournament and is now ranked 1st in the country.


Congratulations. Birdie!


Birdie joined the YMCA community a few months ago. She and her friend, Jill, started attending the Aqua Body Blast Class at 9 am on Monday and Friday… and the class hasn’t been the same since. Birdie and Jill worked as harder, or harder than anyone in the group. They mixed this with a contagious fun and banter that brought smiles to faces and motivated everyone near them to work more intensely…and smile.


Birdie now attends with Anna and works just as intensely. She says the class, “gives me more energy, encouragement, and the opportunity for meeting new people. I hope to look into some other YMCA classes”


Birdie is passionate about being a “big role model.” She said, “I am willing to help anyone who needs help.”  She said she teaches bowling and golf. She said, “If I need to learn another sport, I go on You-Tube.”  She demonstrates leadership in several areas. She is the Art Coordinator for the Spring Special Olympics Art Show held at Chenango Valley High School Football Field. She also serves on the board and committee for the local Buddy Walk. The walk promotes friendship and raises funds for assisting members of the Broome County community with Downs Syndrome. She takes on a helpful role as timekeeper in her Y Water Fitness class, alerting the instructor when the official clock near her in the shallow end reads 8:40, so group can transition from the deep end deck for cool-down.


Birdie finished by listing her favorites. She said her favorite famous person is the legendary golfer, Nancy Lopez. She said, “Nancy Lopez taught me the love of the game of golf.” She mentioned another favorite sport, bocce ball. She said her favorite activity is art. During the past summer, she and other friends often met at the picnic shelter on the West Family YMCA campus to work on art projects. They also meet in the JC Library.


Her favorite place is watching her friends play their sports. She said, “My true friends are my favorites because they treat me with respect and I can trust them. I do the same in return.”


Birdie added one last favorite, “Being the best role model I can be and encouraging others so they can stay positive!” She brings both to the YMCA community!


Veteran’s Day 2017: Honoring Our Veterans’ Service


“We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” Will Rogers


YMCA Member and Vietnam War Vet, Alan’s Story Continued…


Vietnam Veteran and YMCA member, Alan’s Wellness Center work-out discipline built his strength and endurance over the summer of 2017. He said he felt less tired and more alert. These benefits paid off in the functional fitness he needed every day and also for a very special event. On September 30, 2017, Alan joined 39 other veterans on the Leatherstocking Honor Flight from Albany, NY to Washington, DC. Al, a vet friend of his and Honor Flight volunteer, accompanied him. Alan said it was “really something!” A throng of well-wishers and a high school band met them before their 6 a.m. commercial flight. The Southwest Airlines pilot personally expressed his thanks to Alan as he boarded. Alan was quite taken by the reception they received in Washington. Police escorted their 2 buses to the Veteran’s monuments. He said, “It was there we visited the memorials and greeted other vets already there… what comradeship!”


Alan particularly noticed the active duty service personnel who treated them with such respect. He was around the same age when he enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War. Nineteen-year-old Alan traded his job of cleaning out boxcars for an Infantry Medic position. After his basic training in Fort Lewis and 3 more months of training at Fort Sam Houston, he was deployed to Vietnam. He served one year and one day there. He said the guys from his unit bonded together during the ten and a half months he spent just below the DMZ. Alan went on ten to twelve missions. He said they were pinned down by serious artillery on one mission. They young soldiers saw things they never wanted to see, life and death moments that left them “shell-shocked.”  Each one processed their combat experiences differently. Some disengaged and never recovered. Alan said his return from the war was “dark on dark.” Prior to serving, he had alcohol use issues. While in Vietnam, Alan began a struggle with drug addiction that escalated once he got back home. In a desperate moment, he cried out, “God, if you are real, I need your help!” After that prayer, drugs no longer worked for him. He asked his parents forgiveness for all he put them through and headed to Bible School. Then he went on to Teen Challenge and became a male counselor. His next job took him to Everett, Washington to work with troubled runaways. He spent the rest of his working years supervising in sheltered workshops and group homes.


Alan was ordained as an Assembly of God minister in 1983. He acknowledges God’s hand on his life. He joined the Army before his daft number came up. In fact, his number would not have been drawn. He considers this a blessing because without this detour, he would not have met his life partner, the love of his life, Sharon. Alan has worked through his war scars…the last was fireworks. A few years he was finally able to sit through fireworks at a B Met’s game. He finds camaraderie in attending monthly Veterans breakfasts at the Blue Dolphin. As an ordained minister, he has been given the privilege of saying the opening prayer. He recognizes the need for Vets to have hope.


 Honor Flight History: Honor and Closure

A retired Air Force Captain, Earl Morse, also recognized the unique needs of veteran he served as Physician Assistant in small clinic run by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, in Springfield, Ohio. According the Honor Flight website, many of his WWII vets greatly anticipated the creation of WWII monument, due to open in May of 2004. As the months passed, Morse sadly realized none of his WWII vets visited THEIR memorial. He realized their finances, physical and mental limitations, as well the resources and lack of time of their families prevented them. Since he was also a pilot and owned a plane, he invited one of his WWII vets to fly to Washington for a day. The man wept with gratitude. He extended the offer to another hero.


Members of his 150-member aero club caught the vision. The inaugural Honor Flight took place in 2005. They filled 6 private planes and flew 12 “very happy veterans” to Washington. The pilots and sponsors provide their services at no cost. The Honor Flight program grew as others embraced the idea. Southwest Airlines became the official volunteer commercial carrier. Later, Korean and Vietnam war vets were also included in the “mission.”  Alan returned from his flight feeling honored and blessed by the experience he shared with the Leather Stocking group and other Vets he met by the monuments.

(For more info: Veteran Applications, volunteering, donations, flight schedules:


The YMCA History page cites the YMCA’s long tradition of honor and service to our military and veterans beginning with the Civil War:


*Throughout World War I, the YMCA provided morale and welfare services for the military. By war’s end, the YMCA, through the United War Work Council, had operated 1,500 canteens in the United States and France; set up 4,000 YMCA huts for recreation and religious services; and raised more than $235 million—equivalent to $4.3 billion today—for relief work.


*During World War II the YMCA, along with five other national voluntary organizations, founded the United Service Organizations for National Defense, today known as the USO.


*Active duty/family members of deployed military please check this website:


The YMCA of Broome County express our deepest gratitude for the honored service and sacrifices of our Veterans, Active Duty Military and their families, on Veteran’s Day….and every day!

Alan Vet2






Following a Doctor’s Advice Improves Mary’s Health and Wellness:

A Rusty Hinge Water Exercise Success Story

Mary kept a regular exercise routine on the treadmill at her home. She experiencing enough episodes of feeling off-balanced to start using a walker. She also periodically suffered hand tremors so intense she could not hold her fork. Her concern for a serious illness, like Parkinson Disease, sent her to schedule an appointment with a neurologist. He ordered a battery of tests but found no cause for her symptoms. He suggested Mary try a water fitness class. Mary’s daughter enjoyed her workouts in the YMCA Wellness Center so much, she encouraged her mom to she checked out the pool at West Family YMCA. Mary did and decided to join, even though she had never taken a water fitness class.


Mary chose the afternoon Rusty Hinge classes twice a week. She quickly discovered the benefits of group exercise. She enjoyed the social interaction with the other members. It made her work-out more effective…and fun. She said Jennifer, the instructor, provided easy to follow instructions and was very encouraging. Within a month, Mary started noticing physical improvements. She felt her circulation and balanced improved. She said the debilitating shakes she endured were reduced so much she hardly noticed the occasional fine tremors.

Mary2 (002)

She said it is good to have a place to go and something to do after retirement. She lives far enough out that it would be easy just to stay home. Venturing out to class reminds her how much better life is with others around. She also uses her trip into town to get “out and about” to run errands. She likes her “busy days!”


Her instructor, Jennifer says, “It’s stories like Mary’s that remind me I am making a difference in people’s lives…every time a member tells how the Y has changed their lives, my heart is warmed.”

YMCA Helps Vietnam Vet, Alan, and His Wife on Their Wellness Journey

A Veteran’s Day 2017 Story

Vietnam Vet, Alan, and his wife, Sharon, joined the YMCA of Broome County around 4 months ago. Sharon underwent a hip replacement in December of 2016. She followed up with all the PT visits her insurance allowed; the huge out-of-pocket expense once the coverage ended made it impossible for her to continue. Sharon knew she needed more exercises to keep up her progress. They checked out the YMCA and another health facility when they discovered their insurance covered gym/fitness center memberships. They found an added bonus to joining the YMCA, an athletic trainer through Ascension Lourdes. The knowledgeable AT worked with hip replacement patients from their prehab in the Joint Academy, all the way through post-hab. Sharon and Alan welcomed the opportunity for Sharon to meet with the AT for an assessment and a personalized plan for her recovery. So, they joined. Sharon made steady advances after suffering for years with pain that greatly limited her mobility and quality of life.


Alan found also his niche at the YMCA. Alan suffered damage to his optic nerve years ago. Recent deterioration imposed limits on his peripheral vision and his ability to drive. He relied on Sharon for transportation; Sharon relied on him for strength and a helping hand. So, Alan met with Steve in the Wellness Center for an orientation and assessment of his needs. Then the staff developed a program for Alan that built his upper body strength and addressed his back discomfort. Alan trained in the Wellness Center while the AT, a joint specialist, targeted Sharon’s range of motion and core in one-on-one appointment in the AT’s office off the West Family Y gym. Sharon needed to regain the core strength she lost over the last few years due to her inability to work-out. Alan commented very favorable of the Wellness Center experience, “Your needs and concerns are heard.”

Vet Blog

Alan said he appreciated many features of the West Family YMCA facility, including the ease of access, no stair climbs required! He enjoyed the natural light in the Wellness Center; an added bonus for someone who must rely on the VA and tools from low vision clinics to manage his sight issues.


The greatest gains they experienced were the sense of belonging and family. YMCA staff shared the couples travel excitement; Sharon made enough strides that she and Alan were able to take a few Senior bus trips this summer. Sharon actually got off the bus and enjoyed some of the sightseeing. On prior trips, Sharon remained on the bus because her pain was too debilitating to walk any distance. A bigger celebration among their YMCA Family followed for Alan at the end of September. As a Vietnam Vet, he was selected to go on the Leather Stocking Honor Flight out of Albany. He and his friend, Al, joined 39 other WWII, Korean and Vietnam War Vets from Upstate NY on a tour the War Monuments in Washington D.C. (Thanks to the Y, Alan traveled with the confidence Sharon could handle things without him for a day!)


(This story continue in Vietnam Vet Story: Part 2 Veteran’s Day 2017)

My Lessons from Cancer, (Part 2 of Margaret’s Breast Cancer Awareness Story 2017)


So, it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month again. I was 53 years old when I was diagnosed. I started treatment in October of 2013. The outpouring of national and local “pink ribbon” awareness positively overwhelmed me! The following year I was completing chemo and wanted to ignore every reminder of “pink”. In 2015, seeing pink on NHL ice rinks and NFL fields filled my heart with gratitude. Last year, my son’s Binghamton Junior Senators Hockey Team honored me at a game for the funds we raised for Traci’s Hope. (Traci was my friend, a fellow hockey mom and mother to three young boys when she was diagnosed with 3b breast cancer at 31. She passed away in early October 2006 at 38 years old, but not before starting Traci’s Hope. Traci formed the not-for-profit to celebrate the hope she found in outliving her 5 year, 3% chance of survival and the tremendous community support she and her family received. Tracie’s legacy of caring continues through funds and practical assistance it provides for other women and men in our area fighting breast cancer.) Spending time with Traci’s parents made that night more beautiful.



October brings awareness!  My doctors had years of my routine mammograms for comparisons when they called me back for more testing. My stage 2 cancer was discovered while very treatable. Sadly, survivorship for younger women and men is often reduced. They ignore symptoms. They think they are too young to “get” cancer. By the time they are diagnosed, the cancer has often progressed to a less-treatable stage. My message to you is: please, perform self-breast exams. Don’t ignore changes or concerns.



I’ve learned so much in these last four years:



*If I had to do it all again (and I pray I never will), I would not concern myself with maintaining the “sturdy girl image. Many days, I soldiered through and was in bed at 4:00. I would definitely take more time for myself


*Get a second opinion. I resisted getting a second opinion. I’m from Buffalo, home of Roswell Park, a world-renowned cancer institute. My father constantly asked me why I wasn’t going there. To give him peace of mind, I went and ended up getting some peace of mind for myself. This amazing place would not have done anything different; my treatment here was second to none!



*Cancer is not contagious but it affects the whole family.


My 13-year-old son was my rock. He didn’t give a second thought to our new normal. He fashioned a “sling” that allowed air to get to my radiation burns and promote healing. My daughter’s new normal brought different challenges. She spent her senior year living with family members in Buffalo. She attended a private high school there that prepared her to compete in the crazy world of woman’s collegiate hockey. At the same time, she found it very hard to be away from me. Her Aunt Wendy and Uncle Fred’s ended up being the best place for her. My sturdy girl is currently in her senior year of college, playing Division 1 Hockey and going into a graduate program in Physical Therapy!



*Support for Families: Support doesn’t just ask what and how to help, IT DOES!

My work family gave me a pink breast cancer bag filled with goodies every time I left for chemo. We called it “Tuesdays with Margaret.”  They provided dinner for my family at least once a week. They “adopted” my children for Christmas that year.  They didn’t just ask, “What can we do?”  They just did.  I am forever grateful for their support.



*Join the YMCA Livestrong Program: I know I’m fortunate, I know I’m blessed. I came out on the other side a survivor. I just had my 6-month scans and have been declared “clear” for another 6 months. These appointments invoke anxiety but the results are very comforting! I am LIVING STRONG and so grateful for this YMCA program. I highly recommend it for anyone living this journey. I’m committed to wellness! Cancer only made me a tougher, stronger, survivor…a real “sturdy girl,” LIVESTRONG helped get me there and my YMCA workouts are keeping me sturdy.

breat cancer game 10.16 Mets at Orioles

October Breast Cancer Awareness: Margaret’s Sturdy Girl, “New Normal” Livestrong Story

Part 1

On September 16, 2013, I received the phone call no one would want. It started me on a journey no one would choose. It made me a member of a club no one would join. A calm, soothing voice delivered these core-shaking words, “you have cancer.”   Many other words followed. I didn’t really hear them. All I could think was my 16-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son. My parents. My siblings. How was I going to tell them?  Then my thoughts rushed back to the caller. The poor man – I wonder how many times he’d made this dreadful phone call.


My nagging gut feelings now made sense. After my annual mammogram, the radiologist wanted to talk to me. That had never happened, even though I experienced a few scary recalls. This time they also ordered an ultrasound and then a biopsy. And the wonderful breast care staff I knew, acted a bit different…and distant.


A whirlwind of appointments followed the call: consultation with the surgeon (Captain of “Team Margaret”), MRIs, a second biopsy, an EKG, bloodwork and a lymphoscintigraphy. Followed by “The Surgery”, just 10 days after the phone call.  The post-surgical reports measured the success: clear margins and no lymph involvement. I was blessed.


I returned to work in a week. I had a port implanted in preparation for the chemotherapy that started the first week in October. I went through 12 rounds (once a week) of really strong stuff, followed by 25 rounds (every 3 weeks) of less toxic chemo. My hair fell out after the 3rd week and was a matted mess. While we were all home for Veterans Day, my daughter said, “Don’t stress, Mom, let’s just cut it.” The two of them had way too much fun cutting that mess and shaving me bald. I cherish those memories! My kids were both amazing.


I also had 25 radiation treatments from February through the first week of March of 2014 that left me with painful burns. That year was a blur. I rarely missed a day of work. I was so determined to make it in my “new normal, I earned the title, “Sturdy Girl.”  A nurse named Katie called me frequently to check on me, answer questions, and inform me of other support in the community. She always mentioned the Livestrong program at the YMCA. I listened, thanked her and hung up. Sturdy Girl was doing just fine on her own!


In the summer of 2015, Katie called as I was putting dinner on the table. I went in another room to talk. When she asked me how I was, I completely fell apart.  I wasn’t fine. To most people, my cancer “journey” was in the rearview mirror…but not for me. She gently reminded me I hadn’t availed myself of any of the community supports. She told me it was time to take care of me. She likened it to an adult on the airplane instructed to place the oxygen mask over her own face before attending to anyone else. This time I wrote down all the resources she mentioned, including the number for Livestrong. When I finally called, I was told they would be starting a class in October. They added me to the list.  In the meantime, I attended other survivor events.


During the Livestrong in-take I was introduced to our group leader; I liked him right away. I met the other members of the class, 4 women and a man, during orientation. We talked about why we chose Livestrong. Though our stories differed, we were a supportive group. We met twice a week for 12 weeks. We usually started out in the Wellness Center. We made each other laugh through our workouts. At the end of each session, we went into the Land Aerobics room to stretch. That’s where we really got to know each other. We talked about our journeys and comforted each other.  We just GOT it.


Every day reminds me of where I have been. I also have many “what if” moments. We talked about them in our Livestrong. It felt so good to know I wasn’t alone. I never missed a session and didn’t want it to end. So, after it was over, I joined the Y. I enjoy seeing some from my Livestrong group while I am there.



As part of my  new normal, “taking care of me” decision, I now participate in as many YMCA classes as possible after work. The long-term maintenance drug I take for another year and a half causes side effects. I found the YMCA water fitness classes less stressful on my back (one of the side effects). The instructors are so great and the class members are always fun and welcoming.

Me & my kiddos