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YMCA programs supports, strengthens cancer survivors

The Y Healthy Living Center
Posted at 4:02 PM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 18:23:04-04

BOISE, Idaho — Keeping cancer survivors strong before, during, and after treatment has been the mission of Boise's YMCA Oncology Recovery Program - a beneficiary of this year's Flock Cancer event.

The Treasure Valley YMCA launched its 12-week oncology program in 2008, providing physical rehabilitation to adults undergoing cancer treatment.

Director of Y Health Living Center Mary Biddle-Newberry said participants meet with certified medical exercise specialists to create goals and an activity plan suited to their needs. She noted that staff monitor participants' improvement through regular assessments from program inception to completion.

"What's always amazing is just how much progress they make within those first six weeks," Biddle-Newberry said. "And how much more beyond what they thought they could do, they accomplish."

Exercising during treatment recovery is "critical," Biddle-Newberry said, to minimize the short- and long-term impacts of chemotherapy and cancer-related surgeries. She said that maintaining physical health through regular exercise and weight control also impacts the likelihood of cancer resurgence.

"It's not just about recovering from your diagnosis and living a great quality of life, but also preventing a recurrence," Biddle-Newberry said.

All program instructors are nationally certified oncology recovery specialists who help participants perform exercises that can help address things like:

  • Range of motion  
  • Loss of breathing capacity 

Related: Blue Cross helps Boise YMCA THRIVE, donation will expand services for differently abled residents

The program is open to all needing services and doesn't require YMCA membership, Biddle-Newberry said. While it is a fee-based program, she said the Y offers up to 100% financial support for those who cannot afford it.

In 2021, Flock Cancer donated over $25,000 for the oncology recovery program. A local breast cancer awareness walk, Flock Cancer was started by Boise resident Leslie Scantling after the annual Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure event was canceled during COVID-19.

Related: Flock Cancer walk raises awareness for breast cancer and celebrates survivors

Funds from this year's event will again go to the Y's Oncology Recovery Program. Biddle-Newberry said the money allows the Y to "never turn anybody away for an inability to pay."

"It can be very expensive to treat cancer," Biddle-Newberry said. "We do not want financial resources to be a limitation in participating in this program."

Saturday marks the second annual Flock Cancer event. Those interested in walking can register here.

Related: Wellness Wednesday: 2nd annual Flock Cancer Street Stroll