According to breastcancer.org, one in eight women will experience invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. But beating the disease is only half the battle. The After Breast Cancer (ABC) program at the YMCA is a free, sixteen-week program that strengthens survivors in spirit, mind and body. They enroll six-eight survivors in each ABC group, which allows them to develop a support system the first day they arrive. During the course of sixteen weeks, they receive multiple services completely free of charge. These include a four month membership to the YMCA, sixteen sessions of personal training with a Certified Pink Ribbon Trainer, Lymphedema screening and education, nutrition education and meal planning with a registered dietician and support group sessions for emotional healing using breast cancer specific curriculum.
ABC is only available at seven YMCA centers in middle Tennessee; it is not a nationwide program. Each center must secure funding for their ABC program through grants, donations, and partnerships with corporate sponsors. The Sumner County ABC program began in 2016 and is funded only by donations from generous members of the community. ABC has already served ninety survivors in the first two years of running. Each participant receives approximately $1,500 of free services from the YMCA. This year, they will be partnering with the Master Custom Builders Council of Tennessee as the selected charity for their Annual Tour of Homes September 28th-30th. Proceeds from the home tour will provide funding for the After Breast Cancer program at the Sumner County YMCA.
The ultimate goal of the ABC program is to transform survivors in spirit, mind and body by examining what they have been through, how it has impacted them physically and emotionally and helping them develop a vision of what they will become. Their transformation during this time brings hope to newly diagnosed women in the community as they see the strength of these survivors. In turn, as these women are transformed, so are their families. Together, they can heal from the experience and develop healthy habits.
Quotes from ABC Graduates and Survivors:
“I am feeling very thankful and blessed to have been a part of such an amazing group of ladies in the ABC class at the YMCA in Hendersonville. This program is such a wonderful blessing to those of us who have been through breast cancer. I am finding so many positives through this experience. I would not change a thing! I cherish these ladies friendship! I am so much stronger than when I started 16 weeks ago.”
“I thought I could do it all on my own, but the ABC program showed me I didn’t need to. We’d do it together. I met all these other women in my group, and we worked out together and complained about the steps together and we poured out our hearts in our small group and cried together and laughed together… and we healed together. I don’t mean our bodies got well. I mean we began healing.”
To learn more about the ABC program, visit their website at ymcamidtn.org/after-breast-cancer.