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Thursday, Apr 25, 2019
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Northwest YMCA program supports cancer survivors

TAMPA – Although they are cancer survivors, the women who were going through orientation at the Northwest Hillsborough Family YMCA recently weren’t ready to just sit around at home and watch television.

Livestrong at the YMCA is a free 12-week program offers adult cancer survivors a safe and supportive environment to participate in physical and social activities while strengthening themselves person. It is a great way for them to exercise, get into shape and strengthen not only their bodies, but also their minds.

Konomi Puffer, a Livestrong coach, said it is all about getting the women healthy and getting their minds back to where they want it.

“I have a huge heart when it comes to this,” Puffer said. “We work for 12 weeks on strength and cardio work and it’s all in a group. We are excited and I love to coach the people that want to get involved.”

The program is a group program that targets not only cancer survivors, but also their families. It focuses on strength, endurance and flexibility and is taught by certified cancer wellness coaches. It includes work at the wellness center, group exercises and aquatics. There are monthly social events and graduation ceremonies every 12 weeks.

In addition, participation in the Livestrong program offers free YMCA membership to all family members for 12 weeks.

Three women who were going through orientation their first day said they were cancer survivors, but they were willing to look past it to resume their lives.

“Do you want to see the scars?” Pam Hayes asked. “They are all there, but you know what? We are still here.”

Mary Rieder is still going through chemotherapy, a treatment that can fatigue the body. Rieder said she feels as strong as ever and is ready to go to work at the gym. She still feels some of the effects from the therapy but said nothing is going to stop her from living her life.

Emily Stazzone, an avid golfer, has been battling cancer for 10 years. With a laugh and smile that radiate through the room, she said she is ready to take on any challenges.

“I’m ready for anything,” Stazzone said. “We’ve been through a lot. What is working out going to do to make things worse? I love playing golf. I still want to play, so I am not done yet.”

For more information about the Livestrong at the YMCA program, call (813) 249-8510.

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