Passport to Wellness: Women Alike ABreastARiver, Y join forces

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Women Alike ABreastARiver is offering those who had or have breast cancer a passport to wellness, literally.

In conjunction with the YMCA of Pictou, the groups are offering a program titled Abreast Afriends, Your Passport to Wellness, for those in recovery and those currently battling breast cancer.

“Whether they had breast cancer 50 years ago, 20 years ago or were diagnosed last month – this is a way to bring them all together,” explained Faye Visser-Booth, a member of WomenAlike ABreastARiver. “And we will be there so they can see us and realize there is life after breast cancer.”

The members of Women Alike are shining examples of the full lives that can be led following breast cancer. And they are a valuable resources for those recently diagnosed or those who have completed their journey to recovery.

The objectives of the program are three-fold: To get women who are breast cancer survivors and those currently fighting breast cancer to get physically active; to create a support system amongst those women; and to open up topics or conversations that are relevant to those women.

The group’s Jessie Parkinson said, “People are trying to figure out a way for (breast cancer) to never come back again. So this program is one of the ways to be active.”

Maintaining health and wellness through lifestyle and exercise are top of the list when it comes to prevention, they say. “There is scientific proof that if you’re exercising and are active, it lessens your chance for reoccurring,” Visser-Booth noted.

So this exercise program is specially designed for women who are dealing with or in recovery from dealing with breast cancer.

The Y has set up the program with several exercise classes designed for these women, plus a speakers program. The program is free, paid for by the group’s dragon boat team money set aside last year for community outreach from funds raised through Race on the River. For the past 20 years, the group has been using the funds they receive from the Dragon Boat Festival for community outreach. They have given $75,000 to The Lodge That Gives in Halifax and more than $300,000 to the Aberdeen Hospital. Last year, the group outfitted a complete office for the oncologist at the Aberdeen. In past years they have purchased equipment.

“This year, we thought, let’s do something different with that money,” said Parkinson. The end result is AbreastAfriends Passport to Wellness.

Classes take place Tuesdays at 11 a.m. with Gentle Yoga and 6:45 p.m. with Beginner Cycle Fit, and Thursdays at 11 a.m. with Building Balance and 6 p.m. with SALSATION. With the program, participants have the opportunity to attend all fitness classes at the Y and take advantage of all of the facilities at the Y.

Interested people should contact Marla Sim at the Y and can register at the desk by self-identifying as survivors – no questions asked. It will run initially for three months, from March 2 until May 31. Another one is planned for September to November.

Members of Women Alike ABreast ARiver Dragon Boat team include, from the left: Faye Visser-Booth, Cindy Skinner, Darlene Benoit and Jessie Parkinson. (File photo)

Abreast Afriends Passport to Wellness Class schedule:

• Gentle Yoga: A calming, stress-relieving yoga class to stretch and strengthen the body gradually. Emphasis is on building awareness of the breath and body. Yoga practiced at a slower pace with attention to alignment and detail. Recommended for all levels looking for a soothing, relaxing, restorative experience.

• Beginner Cycle: A class which utilizes various drills on the bike to challenge your cardio fitness. Instructors will lead you through hills, drills, intervals and sprints. Because the tension on the bike is controlled by each participant, all fitness levels are accommodated.

• Building Balance: This fun, friendly class focuses on balance, strength and co-ordination using light weights and resistance bands. No mat work included.

• SALSATION: This is a fun dance fitness program based on functional training. No dance experience required. This class is gentle on the joints.