Those suffering from the effects of cancer and chronic illnesses may not feel they have enough energy to exercise, but it’s extremely important to improve their physical, spiritual and emotional health, according to experts at two local programs.

It’s not only beneficial for the physical ailments of long-term pain and disease, but work-out facilities can be a community for people going through the same things; they can be a pick-me-up in the middle of a day full of doctors and hospitals.

`Two programs, Baptist Milestone and the YMCA, bring together doctors, physical therapists, psychologists and exercise trainers to give the best outlook possible for an otherwise negative situation for cancer patients.


The YMCA of Louisville and Southern Indiana offers a free program for cancer survivors and their immediate family members to give them support. LIVESTRONG is a free, 12-week program for sufferers trying to recover or decrease side effects during treatment.

Patients and their families can attend any Y location that offers LIVESTRONG in Louisville or New Albany to sign up for the twice-a-week program, whether their goals are to just walk to the mailbox, run a marathon or somewhere in-between, says Barb Millhollan, Community Development, and LIVESTRONG Director. Barb says in one way, shape or form “everyone has been touched by cancer.”

The LIVESTRONG program is more of a community, she says. “It’s a great community of people trying to do better … to be healthier now.”

The Y locations have pools to help those suffering from hip or knee troubles from cancer drugs and many classes including balance, barre, functional activity, ab, spin and weight loss. The patient or survivor will first receive a pre-test to include walking, balance, and flexibility. and at the end of the 12-week program, the test will be performed again. “If they show up, all their numbers will increase and they’ll feel stronger,” says Barb.

The facilities host educational workshops that include physical therapists, psychologists and doctors to help educate and assist in the transition to a positive future, says Barb. “Even if cancer knocks on your door again, you will approach it in a different way and you’ll be stronger!”

Barb says many of the participants have made lifelong friends from the program. “Together they are powerful,” she says. “They feed off each other. It’s a program no one wants to join, but once you’re in, you’ll never leave.”

For more information and an application to apply for the LIVESTRONG program at [email protected]


The trainers at the CAREProgram at Baptist Milestone’s goals are to help cancer patients with restorative exercise. Anyone who has been diagnosed or is currently going through treatment is invited to take part. The program is tailored for people who are early on in their journey. They have full access to the fitness facility and meet with a trainer twice a week for 12 weeks. “Low intensity helps increase energy levels,” Fitness Director Maria Bernard, MS, says.

Bernard says that once a surgeon or oncologist and physical therapist has cleared the patient, he or she can begin with five to ten minutes of light cardio, then light strength training and end with cardio during a session.

“A lot of times, in these people’s lives, they have a lot of doctor’s appointments to go to,” Maria says. “Come see me and feel better. It’s not another appointment on their calendar, but more educational than anything.”

Bernard, who has been training for 12 years at Baptist, says it’s important for those suffering from chronic diseases to strengthen and stretch certain areas of the body. She says exercise should be “a new normal type of thing. Exercise is important for everyone but it helps with the healing process and with confidence. You’ll have someone coach you through this, choose the best plan of action and them with the healing side of this.”

Patients can register through the Baptist Health Lousiville Cancer Resource Center at baptisthealth.com/louisville/pages/services/ cancer-care/cancer-resource-center.aspx.