Joan Decker has cancer. Her journey with this disease first began in April 2010, after many rounds of medical tests finally detected the bladder cancer that was the cause of her health problems. Joan’s type of cancer requires that she must routinely undergo surgery to control the regrowth of the cancer cells. These surgeries are often followed by chemotherapy treatments.
What could have been a bleak future took a positive turn when Joan learned about the YMCA Cancer Rehabilitation Exercise (CaRE) program. Joan says, “In December of 2010, I broke my shoulder. My cancer treatments had left me so weak that it took nearly a year of physical therapy to recover from the injury. While working with a therapist from Lancaster General Health, she suggested that I try the CaRE program to improve my strength.”
Now entering its fifth session, the Y’s CaRE program, run in partnership with Lancaster General Health, is designed to help cancer patients regain strength and move past the residual effects of cancer treatments such as fatigue and loss of appetite while providing an environment that supports the mental and spiritual needs of the participants. The program encourages the cancer survivor to bring a “support buddy” with them to the CaRE sessions, and both the participant and buddy are given a free Y membership to access wellness equipment and programs during the days CaRE is not in session.
Joan completed the 2012 spring session of CaRE and cannot say enough about the positive impact the program had on her. “This class filled a need for me by acting as a network of support that allowed me to feel that I wasn’t alone in my battle with this disease. It was very helpful to work with other survivors and hear their stories. Everyone was so positive and motivational. When I saw others doing the exercises, it made me more determined as I thought “I can do that too!” Exercising gave me a rush of energy, a boost of self-confidence and a feeling of being in control,” said Joan.
Following her CaRE session, Joan’s breathing improved, she slept better and felt healthier and stronger. After undergoing another surgery later that summer, her doctor noticed an overall improvement in her recovery process that she hadn’t experienced with previous surgeries.
Joan says, “The YMCA offers a safe and secure place where cancer survivors can connect and reach out to each other. We developed a little family that looked out for one another and helped meet our needs, whatever the challenges or struggles were at hand. I hope this class can continue forever so that others have the opportunity to participate in this wonderful program.”
Joan continues to be part of the CaRE program as past participants are welcome to join in the group exercise classes that are part of each weekly session. To date, 32 of people have participated in CaRE located at our Lampeter-Strasburg branch. As as result of the positive outcomes of the program and the ongoing need in the community, the Y plans to expand the program to offer CaRE sessions at our City branch location.