CAREGIVER TO CANCER SURVIVOR AND LIVING STRONG AT THE Y PARTICIPANT
Pat Miller has always been a caregiver. When she was hit with a cancer diagnosis last year, the time had come to focus on herself. “I was shocked. I was now the patient. I had cared for my sister and brother during their bouts with cancer. I saw my father pass from cancer when I was age seven.”
Pat heard about the YMCA’s LiveStrong at the Y program from her friend Jane Schofield, a LifeStrong graduate. Pat had accompanied Jane to her chemotherapy appointments and knew Jane benefited from the Y’s cancer survivor program.
Normally inhibited by joining new groups, Pat knew being part of Livestrong would be good for her. “This is a new experience and I’m up for it!,” she thought. “Courtney Taber (LiveStrong coach) made me feel welcome. She makes everybody feel like they are the only person in the whole world. I like being with other women going through the program and loved learning from Cheryl Peltak (another LiveStrong coach) about ways to get stronger. We even visited Hannaford grocery story with a dietician to learn about making healthy food choices.”
Pat met a best friend in LiveStrong, Nancy Santos. Since graduating from the Livestrong program, Pat and Nancy usually meet every day at the Y. “I’ve made this a priority. It’s what I need to do for me. This is good for my body. This is good for my brain.” Pat has lost 27 pounds since joining the Y. “Livestrong helped me to have that confidence. Having lived through so many family members dealing with cancer as a caregiver, I live everyday as a new day. When I don’t get to the Y, I feel short tempered. Even just walking the track, it helps my brain. I’m much calmer.”
As a cancer survivor, Pat has been asked to speak to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life participants. She started volunteering for this organization in Ohio, when she was caring for her sister. “I made a promise to my baby sister that I would continue the Relay for Life tradition. Now I participate in the Lancaster (Mass.) race.”
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