Team LIVESTRONG member and ovarian cancer survivor, Laurey Masterton, shares her experience with the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program in Ashville, NC. Interested in the program? Visit www.livestrong.org/ymca for more info.
On the first day, when we all met, I nearly walked out. I did NOT want to be around other people with cancer. I did NOT want to be in another survivor’s group (this is my third time dealing with cancer.) I wanted to get back in shape but I felt sick and tired and had no energy and almost left. BUT as the first session progressed, I heard stories of other people who were in much worse shape than me and whose attitudes were surprisingly upbeat. I spent the evening saying I was not going to continue in the program but also found myself recounting details of the assorted people I had met. And I decided to stay.
I am still in treatment (though I am almost done.) I have missed a few sessions because i did not feel well but I also have managed to come to many sessions and, after crying through my first attempt back on the cardio machine, have kept up and have noticed incremental improvement. I have been very fit in my life before this round of cancer, including riding my bicycle across the United States two years ago. It was sobering to realize that 10 minutes on a machine was my limit and that I felt exhausted by that minor amount of exertion. But it is also heartening to see that I can now do 2 of the 10 minute sessions. I will finish my treatments soon and look forward to getting back to my old form.
In the meantime, I have grown to really admire and care for the other people in the program. We are all at our own levels of treatment and fitness and ability. But we share the reality of having been sidelined by cancer and are all, in our own ways, pulling ourselves up and keeping on. I am grateful to Lance Armstrong and to the YMCA for adopting this program and making it available to us. It IS helping me, in more ways than I had thought it would.
Jessica and Rachel are doing a lovely job with us, coaching us on the machines and options and also dealing with us directly and honestly. This is not always easy to do and they deserve credit for being empathic and energizing at the same time. For such young women, they are surprisingly strong in themselves and open with our group – many of whom are living with very
serious health situations.
Thank you for including me in this program. Thank you very much.