Keeping cancer survivors healthy through the YMCA’s LIVESTRONG Program

June is National Cancer Survivor Month and the Wisconsin Rapids YMCA is making sure those who won the fight against cancer stay healthy.
LIVESTRONG program at the YMCA of Wisconsin Rapids
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 6:43 PM CDT
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WIS. RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAW) - June is National Cancer Survivor Month and the Wisconsin Rapids YMCA is making sure those who won the fight against cancer stay healthy. It’s part of the YMCA’s LIVESTRONG program. The program is part of a collaboration with the Aspirus Riverview Foundation.

The LIVESTRONG program has been helping hundreds of cancer survivors for about 10 years. It offers personalized workouts to people who have had cancer.

“We focus on enhancing cardiovascular, strength, flexibility, and balance,” said Brittany Bord, a LIVESTRONG coordinator.

Randy Kaddatz was diagnosed with large b-cell non-Hodgskin’s lymphoma about a year ago.

“I had 6 rounds of chemo and then after that, I had 20 sessions of radiation,” said Kaddatz, a LIVESTRONG participant.

Kaddatz said he’s thankful cancer hasn’t been detected since.

“As far as they know right now, they can’t find no cancer cells in me so I’m looking good,” said Kaddatz.

Through the process, Kaddatz said his body changed.

“I lost a lot of muscle mass and stuff while I was, through all the treatments and stuff and this is getting me back to where I feel like doing stuff again,” said Kaddatz.

Kaddatz said while he was going to radiation, a healthcare professional introduced him to the LIVESTRONG program.

“Once we got the diagnosis, we got randy through treatment, and he was a perfect candidate to be enrolled in the LIVESTRONG program,” said Mary Merdan, an oncology nurse practitioner for Aspirus.

The program tailors the workouts to the person’s specific needs through an assessment.

“We get to know each participant physically on a more intimate level I should say, and we make mental notes on maybe this doesn’t feel good for them,” said Bord.

Some cancer survivors have limited ability when it comes to working out.

“With that, there are some restrictions sometimes. You know, if they had a port put in there might be some stiffness in the shoulder area, any lymph node removal, there could be some stiffness,” said Bord.

Merdan said the importance of staying physically active is crucial.

“One of the worst things people can do is to decide that they’re going to do nothing, sit on the couch while they’re going through treatment for cancer and that’s actually very detrimental to their health,” said Merdan.

Members say LIVESTRONG at the YMCA is more than a workout program, they call it a support group.

“It means a lot when you have other people there and they show you the support plus they’re kind of going through the same thing. It helps a lot,” Kaddatz.

The LIVESTRONG program is being offered at the Wisconsin Rapids YMCA and the Stevens Point YMCA.

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