YMCA programs support and empower cancer survivors

BOISE, Idaho — Keeping cancer survivors strong before, during, and after treatment has been the mission of the Boise 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, offering physical rehabilitation to adults undergoing cancer treatment.

Y Health Living Center director Mary Biddle-Newberry said participants meet with board-certified medical exercise specialists to create goals and an activity plan tailored to their needs. She noted that staff monitor participant improvement through regular evaluations from program start to finish.

“What’s always amazing is how much progress they’ve made in those first six weeks,” Biddle-Newberry said. “And how much more beyond what they thought they could do, they accomplish.”

Exercise while recovering from treatment is “essential,” Biddle-Newberry said, to minimize the short- and long-term impacts of chemotherapy and cancer-related surgeries. She said 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, it’s also about preventing a recurrence,” Biddle-Newberry said.

All program instructors are nationally certified oncology recovery specialists who help participants perform exercises that can help address issues such as:

  • Range of motion
  • Loss of breathing capacity

Related: Blue Cross Helps Boise YMCA THRIVE, Donation Will Expand Services For Residents With Different Abilities

The program is open to anyone in need of services and does not require YMCA membership, Biddle-Newberry said. Although it is a paid 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, Cancer herd 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 Breast Cancer Awareness, 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 anyone down for inability to pay.”

“It can be very expensive to treat cancer,” Biddle-Newberry said. “We don’t want financial resources to be a limit to participation 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 Walk