Cancer wellness program helps survivors get moving again

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A special program for cancer survivors is proving you don't have to be in tiptop shape to exercise. Even if you are battling illness, moving more can help. (WPVI)

A special program for cancer survivors is proving you don't have to be in tiptop shape to exercise. Even if you are battling illness, moving more can help.

Six weeks ago, you wouldn't find Steve Joanni in a fitness center.

Prostate cancer treatment left him too tired.

"I'd go out on the patio to read, and I'd read 15 minutes, and that's it, I'm out!" said Joanni of Warminster, Pennsylvania.

But now he says he has all-day energy thanks to THRIVE. It's a cancer wellness program created by the Central Bucks Family YMCA.

THRIVE began four years ago, after local survivors said they needed help getting their strength back.

It's a complete fitness program.

"Cardiovascular, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, core strength and balance," said Angela Oprondek, THRIVE program manager.

The 12 weeks of individual training and group classes are tailored to each person.

"We have people that are mid-treatment, we have people who are post-treatment," said Zane Moore.

Specialized personal trainers like Candi Van Wagner, a three-time survivor herself, guide participants through their exercise.

Along with the physical benefits, survivors also connect with others facing similar battles.

Cheri Rogers and Cindy Bashore met in THRIVE, then started carpooling to class, and remain exercise buddies.

The sense of community keeps THRIVE members coming back, even when they don't feel their best.

"Maybe you can't do what you did yesterday, but you can do something, and you leave here feeling like you've accomplished something," said Oprondek.

Julie Bessler could barely do anything when she started THRIVE.

"I couldn't shut my front door by myself. I was really bad," said Bessler, real estate agent.

Slowly, she's regained her strength - THRIVE played a big role.

Her cancer battle isn't over, but she's back working as a real estate agent.

"Pounding pavement and making calls," said Bessler.
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