The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 8, 2014

Program helps cancer survivors Live Strong

Participants get Y access for 12 weeks

Kim Sogaard remembers watching that Livestrong video, with its touching stories of people beating the odds, overcoming cancer and reclaiming their lives.

She was moved to tears. And when YMCA CEO John Kind asked her to be a part of the Y’s new Livestrong program for cancer survivors, the cycling instructor said yes, of course, she’d be a part of it.

“It really grabbed at my heart at the tough spot they were in,” she said.

Then came that day in May, when after a day of hard exercising, she woke up feeling ill. Nausea that began in the morning grew worse as the day went on. Eventually, she was in so much pain that she told her husband yes, let’s go to the hospital. They did tests, gave her morphine and sent her on her way.

The next day she saw her regular doctor who resolved to get to the bottom of the issue. Some blood work and a PET scan later, her doctor delivered the irony: aggressive non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Cancer. The woman who was about to become an instructor for an exercise program for cancer survivors was now on the other side.

So instead of instructing, she enrolled.

“It was fabulous,” Sogaard said. “It was a way of helping me get stronger slowly rather than looking for results overnight.”

The 12-week program welcomes cancer survivors of all ages and backgrounds. You need not be a regular exerciser to join. You just need to be willing to work, and open to a program that works by creating a family of people fighting the same fight.

“We have individuals who have completed their last reconstruction, people on preventative chemo, some without cancer for two or more years,” the YMCA’s Joy Leafblad said. “So we have people all throughout the journey.”

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