Exercise and companionship are just two benefits breast cancer survivors get from a program specialized to their needs.
After surgery or other treatments for breast cancer, a woman may be weak or experience a limited range of motion.
PINK at the Y is one such program that aims to remedy this. It has been for nearly ten years, building cancer survivors’ strength slowly and consistently at various YMCAs around the North Shore and at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center.
Burlington resident Audrey Comperchio, has been participating in the program at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center since January.
After a lumpectomy last December, Audrey started looking for local resources and found the program.
“I have met some people there,” she said. “I’m someone who needs that routine. I need that sense of commitment.”
After Audrey started PINK, she noticed it became difficult to lift one arm. The issue turned out to be lymphedema, a condition that can slowly develop after surgery because of a buildup of scar tissue. The scar tissue makes it hard for the lymphatic fluid to move through that part of the body.
“Because I was exercising, I realized there was a problem,” Audrey said.
Trish Marfione helped launch the PINK program and teaches the class at the Reading YMCA. Over the years, she’s witnessed the program make a difference in women’s lives.
“When they start, they’re a little nervous but also have hope in their eyes,” she said. “They’re working on surviving breast cancer and it’s a stressful time, but this program can help these women take care of themselves.”
In the classes, there is stretching and gradual weight training. Sometimes there is cardio, balance, or range of motion.
The course lasts 12 weeks and is offered free of charge as one of Lahey Hospital & Medical Center’s community benefits programs.
It’s not a support group, but it functions as one in some respects, Trish explained.
“Because these women have exercise in their life, I see them feel empowered,” she said. “There’s something that feels so great when it comes to taking care of yourself.”