Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Free Exercise Programs for Women Diagnosed with Breast Cancer

Written by Meaghan Maess, Buffalo State College student and communications intern at Catholic Health
“If there is a bright side to getting breast cancer, Hope Chest is it,” said breast cancer survivor Adrienne Schulte.

Schulte paddles a dragon boat as a member of Hope Chest, a free, exercise-based support group for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Women recovering from breast cancer face many challenges, including fatigue, limited range of motion, and emotional distress,” said Susan Mumma, President of the Hope Chest Board.

Exercise energizes women and aids in recovery from surgery, while the friendships formed within the group offer emotional support. 

“The women that make up this group are some of the most interesting, kindest, intelligent and humorous women I have ever met,” said Schulte. “It is like no group I’ve ever been a part of because its members are so diverse – yet we all have one common bond. We all have that inner strength that has made us survivors.”

Mumma agrees that the women of Hope Chest, who are anywhere from 40 to 70 years old, form a lasting bond.

“Women come and go in Hope Chest depending on their personal circumstances. But they continue to share the deep, abiding friendships with the women who they have met,” said Mumma.

Exercise Program Designed for Women of All Fitness Levels

Hope Chest's exercise program was designed by a personal trainer specifically for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Women at all levels of fitness are encouraged to partake in our classes. Half of our team members had never exercised prior to their diagnosis. Our instructors work with them at their ability,” said Mumma. “They challenge other women who have exercised prior to diagnosis or who have built up their abilities over time with more difficult versions of the exercises.”

Exercise sessions are one-hour long and include:
  • An aerobic warm-up
  • Strength training
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Stretching
  • Relaxation
You can participate in Hope Chest's exercise program as soon as you have a medical release, even if you’re still receiving treatment.

Dragon Boat Keeps Breast Cancer Survivors Moving

“For me, the greatest joy is getting to paddle in the Dragon Boat. Paddling gives me the ability to keep moving full speed ahead,” said Hope Chest member Ann Terranova.

Dragon boating is a team sport that requires power, speed, synchronization and endurance.

Hope Chest's paddling program builds upper body strength and improves range of motion through repetitive, non-weight-bearing exercise.

The Hope Chest team paddles two to three times a week on the Buffalo River, May through September, and races in dragon boating events on the East Coast and in Canada. 

While membership on the dragon boat team is free, travel costs can be incurred at out-of-area events.

“Financial scholarships are available to underwrite the cost of participating in out-of-town festivals for women who need financial support,” said Mumma.

Buffalo Niagara Dragon Boat Festival Supports Hope Chest

Hope Chest members paddle in their own community at The Buffalo Niagara Dragon Boat Festival, which is Hope Chest’s largest fundraiser. The money raised helps the organization to continue to operate and expand their free exercise and paddling programs.

This year, the festival will take place on June 15 at Gallagher Beach, located in the NFTA Boat Harbor on Buffalo's waterfront.

Skill levels range from novice to competitive, although no experience is required.

“We will have over 1,000 paddlers from across the community paddling to raise money, enabling the free exercise and paddling programs to continue and expand,” said Laurie Irish-Jones, Chair of the Festival and Vice President of the Hope Chest Board.

Teams represent Western New York corporations, breast cancer survivors, police forces, firemen, and other community organizations.

Get Involved

You can support Hope Chest by making a donation or by volunteering, joining Hope Chest, or by attending Hope Chest Buffalo Niagara Dragon Boat Festival.

For more information, click here to visit the Hope Chest website.

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