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Empowering cancer survivors to live well.

Survivors Say

When Linda first announced the Survivorship NOW program, it brought tears to my eyes. It took me back to when I was told my treatment was over. There was the initial feeling of elation and joy, and then the crash. For nine months, I had been surrounded by a team of doctors and together we were fighting this disease. Then in one day I was alone and it felt like I was just waiting… It reminded me of the story of how buffalo were herded out west and then stampeded off cliffs. This was my cliff! The Survivorship NOW program will provide a blueprint for moving forward, so that we can continue to feel empowered by actively fighting this disease and there will be no more cliffs.

—Lynn, 21-year cancer survivor

 

When I was diagnosed with cancer in 1986 you could join a cancer patient discussion group that might meet once a month in a hospital conference room. Support at that time did not include physical fitness programs or activities that allowed cancer survivors to connect within the community. Dragonheart Vermont has changed all that for me, and many others like me. Today cancer survivors can enjoy the benefits of physical exercise (Paddles Up!), friendship and community service. What a great idea to expand this positive force with the Survivorship NOW initiative! It enables Dragonheart Vermont to extend and diversify its services to meet the needs of more cancer survivors, and their families, in our community. Keeping in mind that the dragon is a good omen, I see the Survivorship NOW initiative as another paddle in the water for Dragonheart Vermont, pushing all of us closer to a defeat of cancer.

—Bobbie Summers, 26-year breast cancer survivor

 

“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago and again when I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer eight months ago, I did not want to be thought of as a woman battling cancer, but rather as a woman living with cancer. I don’t want to spend my remaining years focused on the disease. I want to focus on all the blessings I have in my life.”

—Holly Hungerford, 5-year breast cancer survivor

 

There is such a strange Catch-22 at the end of the breast cancer journey: the joy of being finished with months of treatment coupled with the fear of being suddenly launched out alone, without the security of the medical safety net. It can be a scary transition time, full of unknowns. Had I known that, at the end of my treatment, I would be welcomed with open arms into a health network of compassionate survivors and caring professionals, it would have made all the difference. Survivorship NOW can be the bridge from cancer to life.”

—Paige Russell, 8-year breast cancer survivor

 

After finishing treatment in 2004 I was ready to move on with my life and decided to join Dragonheart Vermont for the physical activity for lymphedema as well as support for my well-being. I have made many friendships and after a new diagnosis in 2007 find Dragonheart teammates always there with kind words and encouragement.”

-Trish Alden, 8-year survivor, 5-years metastatic

 

I think of my experience with breast cancer as an advanced degree program in learning to take charge of my health. While my doctors were all skilled and compassionate, the treatments were harsh. I credit physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, Dragonheart, and especially ayurveda and yoga with helping me recover and thrive, not just survive. For awhile, putting all this together seemed like full time work; now it’s second nature. Most of all, my “helpers” became teachers, removing the fear and loneliness from the “cancer course” and leaving me with the skills to stay well and the energy to help others.”

—Eugenie Doyle, 5-year cancer survivor

 

 

One of the things I remember most vividly from treatment was feeling adrift when my treatments ended. I was thrilled to be done, of course, but after nine months of having “cancer patient” as a large part of my identity I felt in limbo: If I wasn’t a cancer patient any longer, who was I? It took a while to let the rest of my life fill in that hole. I think it would have been really helpful to talk with other people going through the same thing – but of course once my treatments were over I wasn’t around other cancer patients any more. As eager as I was to put that part of my life behind me, it would have been nice to have access to other people experiencing the same thing, because sometimes it’s hard to know what the questions are until you are in the middle of the situation.”

—Carol, 3-1/2-year breast cancer survivor

 

After experiencing the ups and downs of treatment (neoadjuvant chemotherapy, mastectomy, radiation therapy, Herceptin treatment) since diagnosis last year, I just celebrated my final treatment of Herceptin! I have been overcome by the kindness and willingness to give by everyone with whom I have come – from my friends and colleagues at work, the support systems within the Breast Care Center and community to foster health and wellbeing, and to the new friends within Dragonheart who have provided hope, positivity, and great warmth. Although I had only been out of radiation therapy for only a month when I participated in the Dragonboat Festival last year, I wanted the ability to exercise, have fun and support from people who have been through what I had experienced! I was a novice Dragonboater and people I had never met before as well as old friends who were active in the Dragonboat activities, gave of their expertise, their loving support, and positive approach so that I could focus on the future with hope, enthusiasm, and energy! I look forward to participating in the future!

—Judy Cohen, 16-month breast cancer survivor

 

 

Doors close and windows open in our lives. My Dragonheart Experience of paddling on the water in sun, wind and rain, laughter, camaraderie, good spirits and challenge is not a window I would want to have missed.

—Thea, 9-year breast cancer survivor and 8-year Dragonboater

 

I feel so fortunate to have found a strategically placed Dragonheart VT brochure when I was in my first week of radiation. I finished my six week course at the end of May and was in a dragon boat a little over a month later at a newbie night. The hardest part the first summer was juggling my work schedule. I have always found solace outdoors. It was looking forward to being on the Lake Champlain with kindred spirits, gardening, and keeping up my yoga practice that got me through my treatment. The Survivorship NOW model sounds great! I have just had my first post cancer physical 2 years after my treatment and hope that this program could serve our community by being the link between health practitioners, physical therapists… and fellow survivors. This is the first time I have been part of a team since high school track and I am truly grateful for the opportunity. “

—Mary Merges, 3-year breast cancer survivor

 

Resources

UPCOMING EVENTS

Survivor Strength Training

Free Event

Date: June 26, 2017

Available Spaces: Unlimited

Aqua-Fit (PT360) in Shelburne

Free Event

Date: June 27, 2017

Available Spaces: 6

Early Yoga with Synergy

Free Event

Date: June 27, 2017

Available Spaces: Unlimited

Morning Yoga

Free Event

Date: June 27, 2017

Available Spaces: 16

Step Into Stamina

Free Event

Date: June 28, 2017

Available Spaces: 11

Early Yoga with Synergy

Free Event

Date: June 29, 2017

Available Spaces: Unlimited

Core Strength and Stretch

Free Event

Date: June 29, 2017

Available Spaces: 7

Drawing For All

Free Event

Date: June 29, 2017

Available Spaces: Unlimited

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