Kristel

I’m an alumni of LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA, a physical fitness program for cancer survivors. This isn’t just an exercise group; it’s also a support group. After urging one another on to run or bike harder, or to complete additional reps of an exercise with more weight, we spend time sharing our cancer experiences. Perhaps most profound is the sense that our diagnosis has separated us from the rest of the people in our lives. As one of my group mates stated, “Unless you have cancer, you don’t really understand.” The post-treatment stage is as traumatic as the previous stages were. We expect that things can now return to normal, except we realize that our normal is not what it used to be. So we return to our routines, perhaps physically recovered, but emotionally still shattered by our experience and feeling as if we don’t quite fit in our own skins. So perhaps the biggest benefit to being part of a program like YMCA’s LIVESTRONG, is that it allows us, the survivors of cancer, an opportunity to share our stories; to learn that although our experiences are different than those of people who do not have cancer, we are not alone and adrift. For me, certainly, LIVESTRONG has provided a bridge—to better physical health, and to a better sense of emotional balance and wellness. - Kristel Hawley