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Cancer survivor benefits from the Y's 'LIVESTRONG'

For months, Eileen Altieri, 70, was not feeling well. She was tired and weak and just wasn't herself. She didn't want to go to the doctor, as she feared the worst. Finally, last January, with some coaxing from her daughter, Altieri, who lives in Syracuse, made the call.

"I was visiting my daughter in Brooklyn and she said to me, 'mom, if you don't call the doctor, you are being selfish,'" Altieri recalled. "I called and I got an appointment right away."

Altieri's fears were realized as she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. The cancer had metastasized to her lungs and liver and the doctor gave her just three months to live.

"I was numb," she shared. "All of those months I talked myself out of going to the doctor because I was scared. I was foolish and now I had to face this head-on."

Altieri immediately had surgery to remove a tumor and began her chemotherapy treatments at Brittonfield in East Syracuse. One day, as she was waiting for one of her treatments, she noticed a LIVESTRONG at the YMCA brochure on the table next to her. She picked it up and started reading.

"It was funny, I was sitting there, thinking to myself, 'gee, what if there was a program out there where people who were battling cancer or who battled cancer could get together for support and workout' When I looked down, saw the brochure and started reading it, I was amazed. What a Godsend."

Since October of 2009, the YMCA of Greater Syracuse has offered the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA physical activity and well-being program. Over 100 cancer survivors have participated in the program which is offered at the three branches-Downtown, East Area Family YMCA, and the North Area Family YMCA.

The program, which is free to YMCA members and non-members, addresses the special wants, needs and interests of cancer survivors. The programs and services have been developed for and with cancer survivors, which include services in the area of wellness and childcare.

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