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The Suburbanite
  • STRETCH class benefits cancer survivors

  • Keeping class members heart-healthy and helping rebuild the muscles of the upper body while increasing the range of motion are the main goals of a free program offered to breast cancer survivors or those battling with breast cancer.
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  • Keeping class members heart-healthy and helping rebuild the muscles of the upper body while increasing the range of motion are the main goals of a free program offered to breast cancer survivors or those battling with breast cancer.
    The class, Breast Cancer STRETCH (Strength Through Recreation Exercise Togetherness Caring Health), is offered free to the community and is hosted by Kent State University at Stark’s Recreation and Wellness Center. The program started in 2013 and is open every Tuesday and Thursday.
    The class starts with cardiovascular exercises and ends with stretching and strengthening exercises. Stacie Humm, academic program coordinator at Kent State said people can come when they want when they feel up to exercising.
    “Some of the members of the group are still going through treatments and others are finished,” Humm said. “Part of what makes the program successful is the socialization and how the membersconnect to each other for resources and information.”
    Humm hosted a similar group when she worked at the University of Alabama. The program is part of the Reach for Recovery from the American Cancer Society.
    Reach for Recovery, according to www.cancer.org, helps people cope with their breast cancer experience starting as “early as the first possibility of a diagnosis and continuing for as long as breast cancer remains a personal concern to them.”
    People attending the classes will workout on treadmills, elliptical machines or recumbent bikes. They also work with free weights, TRX suspension system or resistant bands and they do some yoga exercises.
    “We work with range of motion especially in the shoulders,” Humm said. “A lot of women experience swelling in the arms because of Lymphedema as a result of having lymph nodes removed. We're also looking at implementing a water program in the future.”
    Paula Newhart, a four-year breast cancer survivor, comes to class to help with her joint pain which is a side effect of her treatment.
    “Everyone here is in the same boat,” Newhart said. “We're all here to find our new normal in life.”
    Karen Bodner just finished having a double mastectomy in February. She has been cancer free for two and half years. She said her mother carried the cancer gene.
    “I didn't have to have chemo because I was a level one and pre-cancerous,” Bodner said. “This class is wonderful. We all feel welcome and we get good guidance.”
    Doris Ponzani is a seven-year breast cancer survivor. She comes to class with Missy Fiole who is a 12-year survivor. They both feel the class offers socialization and support.
    “I mentioned to Stacie that I was having some issues with my shoulder and right away we started working on it,” Ponzani said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Penny Frederick is a four-year survivor. She started coming to class earlier this year.
    “Coming to class is not all about the cancer,” Frederick said. “It's more about learning to live healthier and making friends.”
    For more information about Kent State's STRETCH program, call the Kent State Stark Recreation and Wellness Center at 330-244-3392. Pre-registration and a physician's clearance are required.