Although many of the events or activities that take place in our Local Cancer Community are so very special for me... the celebration on Saturday marking the ten-year anniversary of Survive, Thrive & Be Fit was especially meaningful!
As many of you already know, the Sheboygan County Cancer Care Fund is the brainchild of Dr. H. Marshall Matthews. In March of 2000, when I began working in this position, he shared his vision for the fund and allowed me to help him turn his idea into a reality and into what it is today, a valuable resource that has provided about $1.5 million in “gestures” (financial assistance) to area cancer patients and survivors!
As a lifelong fitness enthusiast and a cancer survivor, I experienced many benefits of exercise and activity and have long-believed that exercise and activity should be a part of just about every cancer patient’s/survivor’s treatment plan, recovery plan and survivorship plan. In late 2009 I approached the SCCCF Board of Directors with the idea of offering FREE healthy and active living opportunities to area cancer patients and survivors through SCCCF. On February 1st of 2010 my brainchild, “Survive, Thrive & Be Fit,” became a reality with our very first Gentle Yoga for Cancer Survivors class!
Over the past ten years, ST&BF has grown to include a variety of activities beyond Gentle Yoga for Cancer Survivors: Steps to Survivorship (walk/jog/runs), Indoor Row Group, Pickleball Play, Hiking Along the Cancer Journey (day hikes and overnight backpack outings), Survivorship Through the Lens (outdoor photography outings), the Active Survivors of Sheboygan (exercise/activity logs) and more!
We took the opportunity to celebrate ten years of ST&BF this past Saturday with Indoor Row Group opportunities between 8A and 11A during which an all-time high of NINETEEN survivor-athletes/rowers came together to row an all-time high distance of 124,600m during a single IRG session, beating our previous high total of 123,400m set just a few days earlier (on January 27th)! This shows that every survivor-athlete who is a part of this team is important! Had any one of our IRG members not rowed on this day, we would not have been as successful as we were!
It was especially good to welcome back one of our long-time ST&BF survivor-athletes, Dan Kunda! We have missed Dan over the past six months as he has been recuperating from a recent (non-cancer-related) illness and he continues to work hard to regain his strength!
Also included in the festivities of the day was a Gentle Yoga for Cancer Survivors session that was led by Katie Boge, CYT! Katie taught that very first Gentle Yoga class exactly ten years ago and continues to teach us today along with several other certified yoga instructors!
Although typically time on the yoga mat should be time to clear one’s mind and focus on the present... On this particular day I found so many memories and stories of years-gone-by floating through my mind, partly fueled by several familiar songs on Katie’s playlist that have been a part of this group over the years including two of the most exquisitely peaceful songs I have ever heard.
This first song is one that simply seems it was written for this very group!
“Into the Dark of the Night” by Joe Fred
Eyes wide open / Into the dark of the night / I have chosen / to breathe in the light / I’m breathing in light / Through all the choices I have made this far / I’m waking up to who we really are / Eyes wide open / We all are the lights / Each one of us light / But if I fall / Will you please come and hold me / And I will hold you / Through it all / I’m just so grateful to know you / And now you know me / Through all the trouble we have seen this far / We’re waking up to who we really are / Eyes wide open / We all are the lights / And we’re shining a light / Into the dark of night / But if you fall / Then I will come and hold you / And you can hold me / Through it all / Now I can say that I love you / And know you love me / Through all the trouble we have been this far / We’ve woken up to who we really are / Eyes wide open / We all are the lights / And we’re shining our light / Into the dark of night.
As this deeply meaningful song played, I found my mind drift and wander away from Katie’s instruction (I’d say “Sorry Katie!” but I know she fully understands). Instead, I found myself reflecting on all of the survivors that have been a part of this unique and extraordinary group over these past ten years. Whenever one or more of us come together, for yoga or any of our healthy activities, everyone is simply there with one another and for one another! Many from this group continue to participate, others are now busy living and enjoying a full and meaningful life following their cancer experience and, sadly, there are those who are no longer with us!
But as this second song reminds us, “All is well!”
“All is Well” by Joe Fred
Next up was a quick ST&BF Team photo! Although my work allows me to gather with many of these individuals on a fairly regular basis, typically in smaller groups, never before have so many of us come together at one time!
Next up was our ST&BF Survivor-Athlete Recognition Lunch with some delicious sandwiches and healthy salads provided by Panera Bread supplemented by plenty desserts provided by those that attended, including this unique cake by cancer survivor Cindy Becker!
We took the time while we were eating to go around the room and recognize all of the attending survivor-athletes and their co-survivors. I was absolutely thrilled to hear the many ways that participating cancer patients/survivors as well as co-survivors benefitted from their involvement in ST&BF! I will be sharing some of those comments in future issues of this update.
I certainly appreciate the kind words and compliments that were bestowed upon me – however, I assure you, I really don’t do much!
Many of our ST&BF survivor-athletes know how much I love it when they “wear the blue” of Survive, Thrive & Be Fit! We don’t give these shirts away... cancer patients/survivors have to earn them! Well, I was thrilled on Saturday to be surrounded by ST&BF blue (check out the photos)!!! 😊 But when it comes to those shirts... all I did was order them. The survivors are the ones that do the real work: they make exercise and activity a priority in their lives... they take the time out of their busy schedules to participate... they do the work... they make the effort... they support and encourage one another… they provide a positive and healing environment… they are the heart and soul of this local cancer community!
Other than that, as I have often pointed out, my position and the work that I do says so much about Dr. Matthews and Dr. Bettag, who financially support this position and the work involved! They are the ones deserving of all of our thanks and gratitude!
We finished the day with a TLC (Together we Live with Cancer) Survivorship Can Be Fun Game Gathering that included the first of three qualifiers for the TLC World Series of Blackjack! Consider joining us on Tuesday, February 18th and/or Thursday, February 27th for a chance to earn a seat at the final table that is schedule for Thursday, February 27th at 7PM!
See attached Local Cancer Community Update for complete article with photographs!View PDF