LIVESTRONG at the YMCA: Cutting Lymphedema Risk



For years, beast cancer survivors have been warned about lifting heavy objects for fear of developing or worsening a serious post-treatment condition called lymphedema. Lymphedema is swelling of arms, legs or trunk that occurs from the build-up of lymph fluid. A new study by Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that when women practice proper weightlifting techniques, the risk of lymphedema drops significantly.

The exercise program listed in this study is our very own “LIVESTRONG at the YMCA”. This program is a partnership between LIVESTRONG and the YMCA and is a place where cancer survivors can access physical activity programs that are both safe and effective. This is a huge accomplishment for the program to be recognized in such a prestigious journal. In 2008 and 2009, the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program was piloted in 10 cities across the country. By 2010, our goal is to expand the program to at least 150 YMCAs nationwide. For more information about LIVESTRONG at the YMCA, please visit


  1. Sarah Bonner says:

    I have bilateral primary lymphedema that affects my legs. I don’t have lymphedema because of cancer thought, we’re actually not sure what caused mine. But I’m at risk of my lymphedema developing into cancer. I’m doing therapy and treatment for the lymphedema right now, but it’s still spreading fast almost uncontrollable and my doctors are concerned it may develop into lymphoma or another type of cancer.

    I know right now I don’t “qualify” into what you’re doing, but I’m really interested in it still. I’m trying to start a support group where I live (Roanoke, Virginia) and I am a YMCA member and the YMCA that I go to doesn’t have anything like this. I’m trying to get into shape again so I can lose some of the weight I’ve gained since getting lymphedema and to feel better. I used to be a runner, but I have bilateral foot problems also and need surgery, but the doctors are too scared to try surgery because of the lymphedema. I also have a number of stress fractures and basically walk on 2 broken feet and have been advised not to run anymore.

    Please let me know.

    Thanks for supporting lymphedema, it’s such an unknown disease still and very scary for those of us who have it. There isn’t a lot of support or education and the treatments are very barbaric and so many patients go without treatment. Many patients also struggle with people not understanding them and criticizing them for being fat when they don’t realize that lymphedema patients have a medical problem constantly working against them.

    Sarah Bonner

  2. avril says:

    Hi Sarah,

    This is Avril. My grand mother was suffered from lymphedema. I know how a person suffered from the lymphedema feels. After a long search on the treatment on lymphedema and swelling in the body, I found a book which is written by Peter Hodge. The book is based on his experience and 6 years of research on the lymphedema and its treatment. I make you sure that you will be benefit by this book. Go through the weblink given here to get a proper treatment for the lymphedema.


  3. peter says:

    Lymphedema research and understanding is definately improving and helping the lives of lymphedema sufferers although there is still a long way to go

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