Almost everyone knows someone affected by cancer, and with sickness, the American Cancer Society reports many face some degree of depression.
However, a local program that supports survivors is catching fire and pumping people up.
The ACS says support is key to helping a cancer patient drive forward, which usually comes from a caregiver.
Caregivers are usually a spouse partner or an adult child, but can be anyone who is close to the survivor.
Breast cancer survivor Susan Klimek said she fought on her own and lives stronger now thanks to a program here in Central Wisconsin.
"It was a gift from my nieces and my nephews the year I was diagnosed in 2007," Klimek said as she proudly wore her breast cancer necklace around her neck. "I got it from my youngest sister's kids. They wanted me to have it."
Six years after she was diagnosed, Klimek stands strong. She survives cancer after a martial mastectomy and 25 rounds of radiation.
While usually patients may have a spouse or children of their own to lean on, she reached for other family instead.
"All my neices and nephews are my life," Klimek said.
She battled on her own, but heals with a support family at the Aspirus YMCA, led by a woman who knows how to keep survivors spirits up.
"Some of the survivors have bad days," Shannon Wagman, health and wellness director at Asprius YMCA, said. "But i'm not going to let them have bad days here. I'm gonna kick their butt and tell them they have to get on that exercise ball or the track."
The free, 12-week LIVESTRONG program started in 2011, but now has survivors on waiting lists.
The program helps survivors get back to normalcy in their life with healthy living practices and excersise.
"I notice such a big difference in these people," Wagman said.
Wagman pours her heart into the program and each person who enters it, which by the way, about 100 people have gone through the popular program since it started.
"On day one, it's like, 'I can't balance,' to we're at week six and they're balancing. They're on the machines. They're walking like crazy. It's a huge difference. I can't wait to see the final result after the 12 weeks," Wagman said.
For Klimek, she said the physical wear on her was hard post-cancer when she gained 40 pounds, but this program is a way to heal from the inside out.
"It (LIVESTRONG Program) gives me some inner self esteem that i've lost," Klimek said.
Whether it's weight gained or a sense of self lost in the cancer battle, it all runs together when you survive, it points right back to what got you through: your support system.
"One thing you gotta remember is that you can't let the cancer get you," Klimek said hugging Wagman. "You get it (cancer)."
"That's the best advice ever," Wagman said smiling at Klimek. "Take that from a cancer survivor."
Klimek said her non-invasive type of cancer was found after her annual mammogram, and in her case, she didn't have a lump.
Here's the link to programs in our area: http://www.livestrong.org/What-We-Do/Our-Actions/Programs-Partnerships/LIVESTRONG-at-the-YMCA/LIVESTRONG-at-the-YMCA-Locations/LIVESTRONG-at-the-YMCA---Wisconsin
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