Desert Foothills Family YMCA Kicks Off ‘Livestrong’ Program

Carol Maxfield, pictured on the left, is a volunteer and a graduate of the first Livestrong program at Desert Foothills Family YMCA. Read her personal journey below.

The Desert Foothills Family YMCA (Y) and the Livestrong® Foundation joined together to create Livestrong at the YMCA, a physical activity and well-being program designed to help adult cancer survivors achieve their holistic health goals.

The research-based program offers people affected by cancer a safe, supportive environment to participate in physical and social activities focused on strengthening the whole person. Participants work with Y staff trained in supportive cancer care to achieve their goals such as building muscle mass and strength; increasing flexibility and endurance; and improving confidence and self-esteem. In addition to physical benefits, Livestrong at the YMCA focuses on the emotional well-being of survivors and their families by providing a supportive community where people impacted by cancer can connect during treatment and beyond. By focusing on the whole person and not the disease, Livestrong at the YMCA helps people move beyond cancer in spirit, mind and body.

Livestrong at the YMCA is a free 12-week small-group fitness program for adult cancer survivors. The program focuses on improving cardiovascular fitness, strength and balance to regain overall health. Classes meet twice a week for 75 minutes. Participants will receive a free Y membership for the session’s duration.

Program Goals:

  • Improve energy levels and self-esteem
  • Build muscle mass and strength
  • Increase flexibility and endurance
  • Improve ability to do everyday tasks
  • Develop an ongoing fitness plan to continue practicing a healthy lifestyle.

Those who are interested in sponsoring the Livestrong at the YMCA program may donate at https://valleyymca.org/donatedffy — $250 supports one participant, $1,000 supports a class of four participants — or contact Allie Avishai, associate executive director Desert Foothills Family YMCA, at allie.avishai@vosymca.org or 602.212.6058. The next program at Desert Foothills Y kicks off March 3.

Carol Maxfield, pictured above, is a volunteer and a graduate of the first Livestrong program at Desert Foothills Family YMCA. Here is her personal journey, in her words:

My name is Carol Maxfield and I am a volunteer at Desert Foothills YMCA. I am here representing the LiveStrong Program for cancer survivors.

Let me ask you a rhetorical question.  How many of you know someone who has cancer?

My guess is that you all do.  Friends, family members, co-workers …. it seems to be everywhere.  I never thought I would be included in the ranks of those who have the disease, but I am, and  I remember September 9, 2016 like it was yesterday, when my husband and I  heard the terrifying words, “you have Stage 4 ovarian cancer.”  How could this happen to me?  In a split second my life as I had always know it, and the future my husband and I had always planned, was forever changed. Of course there were treatments, Dr’s appointments, good days, bad days – it all comes with the diagnosis. 

I don’t share this with you because I want sympathy — I share this with you because 3½ years later I AM standing in front of you today. When I completed my treatments I knew I needed to take back control of my new life. One of the things that has allowed me to do that is the Live Strong Program offered thru the Desert Foothills YMCA. This program believes that our Drs have done their part, it is now up to the survivor to take their life back and start building their new norm with a healthier body and mind.

LiveStrong is a 12-week physical activity program that meets 2 times a week and is designed to get survivors back on their feet after a cancer diagnosis and/or treatment. During the 12 week program, membership to the Desert Foothills YMCA is complementary for the participants. The primary focus is helping our participants to strengthen their bodies through a series of closely monitored exercise routines. They receive encouragement, work-out in a safe environment, and most importantly have FUN.  Accordingly, our program is tailored to each individual’s fitness level, disease state and stage of treatment.  They learn exercises that can be continued in whatever phase their journey presents itself. They have all seen remarkable results in their stamina, strength and the ability to return to doing some of the things that have always made their life fulfilling

The program is blessed to have a certified group fitness trainer and a compassionate facilitator at its helm, Laurie Satter. She has also become one of my best friends. Two other LS graduates are also volunteers for the program and we all help Laurie in any way we can. Each of us is a cancer survivor and has experienced its benefits firsthand and want to give back. For me, it has become a passion to help the program succeed. We have all joined forces to make a difference in someone else’s life and to continue growing the program. 

Our program is not just an exercise regimen. Laurie and I believe the mind is an integral part of recovery. We try to create an environment of trust. We have heard over and over that having a place to come together with other survivors and be able to share, is key. Knowing that you are surrounded by the support and care from others, who intimately know all that you have experienced in ways no one else can understand, has given a voice back to all of us. We ARE a big family.

We are the exercise program with a heart.

Since its inception at Desert Foothills and Laurie took the helm, LiveStrong has graduated 6 classes. Several of those graduates are with us tonight. Feel free to ask them any questions about their own experiences. They are all strong, compassionate and remarkable women and are easily recognized by the t-shirt they are wearing.

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