UNION, NJ - The Gateway Family YMCA – Wellness Center Branch hosted a graduation ceremony for the first class of nine graduates from LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, a twelve week wellness and recovery program for cancer survivors.  The graduation was held at the Wellness Center Branch, 1000 Galloping Hill Road in Union, NJ.  Family members came to support their loved ones on their wellness journey.  Many expressed how grateful they were for the program because they saw the improvement in their loved one.  

“The LIVESTRONG coaches are proud of our graduates for their commitment to the program. They are a great group of women who supported each other through the ups and downs,” stated Lexy Anderson, Senior Director of Healthy Living, The Gateway Family YMCA – Wellness Center Branch.

Throughout the ceremony, the graduates provided testimonials on what the program meant to them.  “I would highly recommend this program. It improved my physical and mental health and I met a wonderful group of people that I truly care about,” stated one participant.”  “My side effects from treatment were minimized by participating in this exercise program,” added another.  “Being in a group with other women who have endured the same experience that only someone with cancer can understand made this experience fun and took away the fear of having people judge you,” added another.  “Livestrong at the YMCA meant a fresh start for me; it put me on the right track to being whole & healthy again.”

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Each participant received a certificate of completion and a yellow rose.  The ceremony was followed by light refreshments, conversation and pictures of the graduates.  “It is always a feel good night and speaks to why the work we do at the YMCA is so important,” added Lexy Anderson.

LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is a nationally recognized twelve-week, small group wellness recovery program designed for adult cancer survivors; it is collaboration between the LIVESTRONG Foundation and selected YMCA’s across the country. This program fulfills the important need of supporting the increasing number of cancer survivors who find themselves in the transitional period between completing their cancer treatment and the shift to feeling physically and emotionally strong enough to attempt to return to their normal life or their "new normal".  

“Our goal is to help participants build muscle mass and muscle strength, increase flexibility and endurance and improve functional ability,” stated Paul Mickiewicz, Wellness Center Branch Executive Director.  Additional goals include reducing the severity of therapy side effects, preventing unwanted weight changes and improving energy levels and self-esteem.  A final goal of the program is to assist participants in developing their own physical fitness program so they can continue to practice a healthy lifestyle, not only as part of their recovery, but as a way of life. In addition to the physical benefits, LIVESTRONG at the YMCA provides participants a supportive environment and a feeling of community with their fellow survivors, YMCA staff and members.

LIVESTRONG at the YMCA Coaches work with each participant to fit the program to their individual needs and are trained in the elements of cancer, post rehab exercise and supportive cancer care.  One participant thanked her coach, stating “Thank you for opening the doors of your heart and giving us joy, gentleness, vision, courage and most especially HOPE.” 

“Through LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, we are able to offer those who have been diagnosed with cancer the support they need to build both emotional and physical strength,” stated Krystal R. Canady, CEO, The Gateway Family YMCA.  The twelve week program is offered at no cost to the participant and is open to the community.

To view photos and personal stories from our LIVESTRONG at the YMCA graduation, please visit http://tgfymca.org/node/530  For more information on The Gateway Family YMCA or the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program, visit www.tgfymca.org or contact Lexy Anderson at the Wellness Center Branch, 908-349-9622.