"A very dear friend of mine, prior to my cancer diagnosis, learned that she was very far advanced in one of the worst cancers anyone can suffer – and that's pancreatic cancer. She was one of the greatest, sweetest, smartest women I have ever known, and when I got my little cancer hiccup I really felt like an imposter because what I have had to endure was nothing like what so many people in this program have been through.
So Judy told me about the Livestrong program, which I had not heard of. As Lauren has heard me say many times, I don't join things. I am congenitally a non-joiner. Bridge clubs no. Garden clubs no. And although I read all the time, the very idea of joining a Book club gives me the heebie-jeebies. When Judy said I think you should join this program. It meets twice a week for twelve weeks and is totally free. I said “No, I can't do that.” But she being so clever – and manipulative – said you don't have to join. We are allowed bring a support friend, and I would very much appreciate it if you would be my support person.
Well, how could anyone say no to a request like that? So she got me there. I had never belonged to a Y or a gym. I had never been on a single machine of any kind in my entire life since as an eight-year-old I jumped up and down in my driveway on a pogo stick. But there I was, and so I needed to be a good team player and participate in the program as best I could. It didn't take very long, thanks to this wonderful young woman, who really is the heart and soul of this program. My friend got sicker and sicker and weaker and weaker and could no longer continue to participate. But by that time I was on the treadmill for 10 minutes of cardio and did try to pull 5 lbs. on the lat machine.
But the main thing was not so much the physical benefits but the emotional and psychological support – the adrenalin or the endorphins something like that – that made me get up every Tuesday and Thursday morning, looking forward to being there and being in the presence of these incredible people, mostly women but not exclusively, who had stories to share and whose courage just as I said before made me feel like an imposter, but I could not give it up. When the program was over, Lauren said to me and other people that she needed “old-timers” to help her with future programs. Of course, I said Yes.” Another alumni Laurie Pittman, whose beautiful statement Lauren just read to you, and I decided that we wanted to continue meeting on the same Tuesday – Thursday schedule in order to keep up our physical activity and our friendship between programs. Then at the end of the next program we had such a warm group who bonded so much that we also decided to meet for breakfast somewhere once a month. We started with a small group of only 5 or so but have invited everyone from other programs to join us and are now up to 10 or more. So you see, I became, thanks to my dear friend whom I miss very much, a “joiner.” It has meant the world to me to do this. I have been an alumni for over three years now, and I literally cannot imagine living without Livestrong. Thank you."