Cancer survivors benefit from exercise training and support in Oklahoma City
Becca DeBee, six other cancer survivors and a caregiver were the first to try out Livestrong at the YMCA. It's a free 12-week program that provides cancer survivors and their caregivers with exercise training and a support group.
First, she ran the 5k.
Then the 10k.
And then the half marathon.
A year before, she couldn't walk 10 steps. The cancer treatment was exhausting, and Becca DeBee was stuck at home on the couch.
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Jun 7Becca DeBee and six other cancer survivors were the first...
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But once DeBee finished treatment, she started an exercise program at her local gym that was specially designed for cancer survivors. Now, DeBee is anything but tired.
“I really feel like I'm better than I was even before cancer,” DeBee said. “I feel like I'm in the best shape ever.”
DeBee, six other cancer survivors and a caregiver were the first to try out Livestrong at the YMCA. It's a free 12-week program that provides cancer survivors and their caregivers exercise training and a support group.
The program will start again in July at the Edmond and Earlywine Park YMCAs. It is a partnership with the Livestrong Foundation, a cancer support organization known for its yellow wristbands and association with famous cyclist Lance Armstrong.
The first step for the group members was to set goals, said Emilee Bounds, the health and wellness director at the Edmond YMCA. Goals ranged from being able to pick up a 24-pack of water at the grocery store to running a half marathon.
DeBee ran the Lucky Run 5k and the Redbud Classic 10k before completing the 13.1 miles of the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon. Crossing that finish line was a huge step.
“There was some tears shed at mile 11,” she said.
DeBee found out she had cancer in 2008. It was in the early stages, and doctors were able to operate and remove it.
But in 2010, DeBee found a lump under her left arm. Doctors soon determined it was cancer, and it had spread to lymph nodes under her arm. They removed the infected lymph nodes, and DeBee went through a year of treatment that she finished in October.
Her cancer is now considered to be NED — no evidence of disease. For now, she is finished with treatment.
Through the YMCA program, DeBee received a personalized workout and learned about the gym equipment.
Bounds said the staff tested each person to see how much he or she could lift initially. The results were incredible.
“One individual only lifted 20 pounds on a leg press her first day and then lifted almost 200 on the last day,” Bounds said.
DeBee found that exercising gave her more energy than she had before her diagnosis.
“Before, I didn't take the time to really care that much about my health,” DeBee said.
“You just don't think about it really until you don't have it. Now, it's really important for me to take care of myself.”
The program wasn't just about working out, though. It was about supporting each other, too.