Stay Strong Cancer Survivorship at Oneida YMCA

ONEIDA — After her initial cancer treatment, Ellie Moran was so weakened that she could barely get out of bed or lift a gallon of milk.

“I found myself lying in bed, my muscles had become almost nonexistent, and I was exhausted. But I was going to defeat what this cancer had done to me,” Moran said.

Moran turned for help to the Oneida Family YMCA and their Stay Strong Cancer Survivorship Program, which is run in conjunction with Oneida Health’s Cancer Center, a member of the Roswell Park Care Network. With their dedicated training space and post-treatment focus, Moran has turned her life around over the past six months.

“I look forward to going to the Y every time I head out the door,” she said.

“Since the cancer I have is not curable (it is treatable/manageable), I anticipate I will be with the Y for a long time. My health in general has improved so much that I want to be sure the program continues — which I know it will.”

Cancer patients are referred to the Stray Strong program through the hospital Cancer Center. They receive a 12-week complimentary YMCA membership, with two group classes per week and a weekly assessment. The program has dedicated space at the Y away from the general public, giving participants privacy to work at their own pace. When they feel capable, they are introduced to the main exercise rooms.

“Physical activity can help individuals cope with the side effects of treatment and prevent muscle weakness and improve range of motion,” said Collin Meehan, branch director of the Oneida YMCA.

Meehan and specialized exercise coaches assess individuals and creates health and fitness programs to benefit their unique physical and emotional needs.

“When patients complete their active cancer treatment and are ready to move to a higher level of wellness as cancer survivors, the Stay Strong program offers a local, safe environment to participate in physical and social activities designed to strengthen and heal the whole person,” said Meehan.

“The 12-week comprehensive program begins with ‘pre-hab’ services to help prepare patients physically and emotionally prior to treatment or surgery and supportive care to manage side effects during cancer treatment.”

For more information about Stay Strong and other programs at the YMCA of the Greater Tri-Valley, contact the Wellness Center at 315-363-7788.

“The Stay Strong program is designed to help patients to be as physically active as possible before, during and after cancer treatment. We focus on the whole person and not the disease to help individuals move beyond cancer in spirit, mind and body.”

Members have access to all YMCA programs and services, including yoga, pilates, swimming, the steam room, sauna, the Wellness and Strength Center and more. The goal is to help patients safely achieve their fitness goals through building muscle mass and strength, increasing flexibility and endurance, and improving confidence and self-esteem. Participants develop an understanding of the benefits of an on-going fitness program, not just for recovery, but as a healthier way of life, officials said.

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