The Staystrong program at the South Shore YMCA is designed to help people in our community to overcome the obstacles they face throughout a cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery. When you participate in Staystrong as a donor, a volunteer, or a participant, you become part of a collaborative community initiative that will help hundreds of people to grow stronger together in spirit, mind and body. Learn more about our Staystrong community through their stories below.
Words cannot describe how thankful our family is for the South Shore Y’s Staystrong Program! It was devastating news this past summer to hear my husband’s cancer had returned. His stage three cancer needed to be treated immediately, he had to stop working and our finances dropped to an all-time low. More stressful than the lagging finances, was the well-being of our 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son; these kids needed a happy distraction during their summer break from school. A good friend of mine who use to work for the Y and spoke very highly of great programs that were offered for families in our situation, suggested we reach out. I am so glad I did! Thanks to the Staystrong Program and the generous donations that fund these programs, our kids were able to enjoy a great week of summer camp at Camp Quirk in Quincy at no cost! This was huge and the kids enjoyed themselves so much they look forward to returning to Camp Quirk next summer!
“To me, the Staystrong program means a lot. It gives you a sense of community. The Y is what’s helping me keep in touch with my community. I enjoy the fact that I have 3 Y facilities that I go to depending where my physical therapies are going to be – it makes things very convenient. But Staystrong is more than just strength. Physical activity and exercise are a very important part of any kind of cancer rehabilitation, of course. But the important thing is for people to be strong mentally as well. Staying strong is your well-being. Staying strong means not succumbing to cancer and the fear that you hear about all the time. It means that you keep pushing, and live every day as best you can.”
“When I was diagnosed with cancer, the first thing I thought about was ‘who’s going to take care of my husband?’ But in the process, my husband learned to take good care of me. And so I know that whatever happened to me, he could be able to take care of himself. It’s all about staying strong and continuing on with the way you live your life.
To me, staying strong is not only physical, but mental and emotional. But when you have a network of people who surround you and always hope the best for you emotionally and mentally, they make you strong. And so your physical capacity comes with it.
I’m very grateful for all of the people who inspired me, who surrounded me with their prayers and kindness – especially the YMCA. I met a lot of people who were in the same boat. But we were able to share our experiences with each other. We became a source of strength for each other and there was really a harmony and camaraderie that came from it.”
“For me, not having to worry about where you’re dropping off your kids so that you can help heal your mind and your body is crucial. It’s so important that Staystrong goes beyond thinking about the patient. Children and family members are included in Staystrong so that they, too, can have a safe place to unwind, play and be a part of a community that extends far beyond the support and care of our immediate family.”
“To me, staying strong means that you’re stronger than you think you are, and you can deal with a lot more than you realize. Cancer is a scary diagnosis for the patient and their family, but you can fight cancer by being strong and surrounding yourself with a supportive community. For me, people at the Y helped me stay strong one day at a time. People from all walks of life come into the Y and that’s why I love it. There are all different types of people to meet, and it’s different every day. It’s a great community – one that is like a family to me.”
“My father battled pancreatic cancer. We were in and out of Dana Farber with him on a regular basis, altering all of our lives to support him. It takes an emotional, physical and financial toll on the entire family.
To me, staying strong means a unified fight: a family fight… a community fight. Staystrong encompasses the spirit the mind and the body. The body is what’s being attacked by the cancer, but the spirit and the mind need to be strong to help the body. And I think it’s a wonderful way to look at it.
The YMCA has been at the forefront of physical health for years. And now with Staystrong, they’re fostering positivity in challenging times because they support all of these facets – spirit, mind and body. The more an organization like the YMCA can bring together a community where people can learn and socialize together through exercise, community events, and other organized functions – I think it’s the best thing that a cancer patient or caregiver could get involved in.”
“To me, Staystrong means an opportunity for the community to come to one place to find support when a cancer patient and their family are going through one of the hardest times in their lives – to come and not only be treated because of their disease, but to be treated as a whole person.
Cancer is a crisis in somebody’s life. In the life of a family. At that time of crisis, Staystrong provides people with an opportunity to lean on each other’s shoulders to give space for all those different feelings, to answer the questions that come with diagnosis, and to talk out the logistics of how they’re going to deal with life. Cancer touches every denomination and every religion, so we should be able also to reach across those barriers to support one another to bring courage and hope to those who need it most in the face of treatment and recovery.
Programs like Staystrong make me feel really proud to be a part of this community. When I know that someplace like the Y is working to address real, pressing needs in people’s lives, it makes me proud. It also gives me joy and hope.”
“Staying strong means community. What the Y is doing to provide support for people with cancer through Staystrong is amazing. The support we got through the Y, our friends and family throughout my diagnosis and treatment was all about making things as normal for our children as possible. The Y was like a second home for me when I was going through cancer. My kids could go into the playroom, tennis lessons, summer camp or family swim, and they would feel right at home. I feel like the Y is so integrated in to my life at this point that I can’t imagine having gone through the past year without having the Y there for my family and I.”
“The Staystrong program offers something very unique to the community and to patients that they can’t get at the hospital or at a cancer treatment center. It offers a common place where they can gather together to heal holistically alongside other cancer patients, survivors and families in similar circumstances.”