YMCA offers free gym program for cancer survivors

Local woman benefits from YMCA program.

TAMPA - Lifting three-pound weights for 15 or more reps is quite an accomplishment for Ruthann Dahlquist.  She's just finished a battle with breast cancer that metastasized to her brain.  

Her husband, Ray, said, "She would just have to lie around.  I mean the radiation and chemo was really zapping her, but it was also healing her.  She wasn't very physical until we started coming to the YMCA."

YMCA locations in the Tampa Bay area are offering cancer survivors like Ruthann a 12-week program that is free.  Survivors can work with a trainer who will be sensitive to whatever medical issues they might have.

YMCA wellness coordinator Steven Novitske said, "What we found with the Livestrong at the YMCA program is that the cancer survivor not only needs the medical care, but they also need their fitness levels to improve.  By increasing their fitness levels, they respond better to their treatments and the chance of reoccurrence of the disease is less common."

The Livestrong program is open to any cancer survivor in the Tampa Bay area.  You don't actually have to be a member of the YMCA. And the program allows any of your family members to come work out with you. 

Ruthann lost about 12 pounds.  But more importantly, she said, "It gives me so much energy.  I'm getting stronger."

Ruthann is now blind, a side effect of radiation.  With two hearing aids as well, her balance wasn't good.  Now, though, her husband said, "At least we can go grocery shopping together.  I don't have to look for someone to sit with her while I go off on my own to do the grocery shopping and things."

In fact, Ruthann's fitness level is so much better, she's able to walk with her husband for 25 minutes every day.

To find out more about Livestrong at the Tampa YMCA, contact Maureen Chiodinii at  Maureen.chiodini@tampaymca.org or call 813-224-9622 ext 278.

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