HealthBuddy Check 6


Cancer survivors regain strength and confidence in fitness programs

Posted at 6:12 PM, Jul 06, 2011
and last updated 2012-02-28 17:14:58-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – With each step on the elliptical machine. Each time she lifts and leans with the yoga ball.

Debbie Bragg and Theodora Merry, both 53 years old, get back what their breast cancer battles stole from them.

Theodora says she had a lot of issues with fatigue and deterioration of confidence. She says she felt she couldn’t trust her body any longer.

Debbie Bragg says she felt closed in, closed up, almost like a scared animal because all the treatment she needed.

The treatment that saved their lives, hindered their daily lives.

But both women are regaining their strength, flexibility, and optimism in physical fitness programs designed for cancer survivors.

Theodora enrolled in the free, 12 week LIVESTRONG program at the downtown YMCA.

Two instructors like Jana Klaiber Smith work with 10 survivors per session.

Jana says the best feeling for her is when she hears a survivor say they are able to do something they weren’t able to do before. Something simple, what she calls normal daily living.

Across town at the Short Pump American Family Fitness Center, Debbie’s making progress in this Healthy- Steps class.

Debbie says she can now stand and do the exercises.

The therapeutic exercise class was designed in 1980 for breast cancer survivors by two doctors and their sister who is a breast cancer survivor.

It’s now for anyone recovering from surgery, injury, or living with a chronic illness.

Instructor Talia Moser told me how it helped a woman with painful swelling called Lymphadema.

Talia says after each class the Lymphadema was diminished and the woman had better movement. She says it was dramatic.

Theodora and Debbie are seeing dramatic differences in their health as well as they restore their bodies after breast cancer.The LIVESTRONG program at the downtown YMCA has another session starting June 9.If you would like more information about the program and how to enroll, contact Jana Klaiber Smith, LIVESTRONG advisor, at the Y 804-474-4340 or

For information on Healthy-Steps at the American Family Fitness Center-Short Pump contact Talia Moser at 804-399-3353 or . You can also find information at www.gohealthysteps.comBon Secours Richmond Health System offers free Yoga classes on Thursday. The Lymphedema Management Center offers services that include exercises patients can do to relieve this unpleasant occurrence for survivors. Bon Secours Richmond Health System: free Yoga classes on Thursdays. And the Lymphedema Management Center offers exercises to relieve occurence for survivors.

You can also contact the Richmond affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure for a list of other resources or programs at 804-358-7223.