Livestrong at the YMCA. For a Better Us.

Sebastian Youngman | Age 29 | Torigian Family YMCA

Sebastian Youngman stumbled across the LIVESTRONG program at the Torigian Family YMCA by chance, and describes it as the best accident that ever happened to him. In the winter of 2014, Sebastian had just finished 6 cycles of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of radiation to treat a brain tumor (the size of a tomato) at the base of his skull that had metastasized into tumors down his spine. “After all that treatment, I had been in bed for 4 months,” Sebastian said. “Not walking, not standing up, not moving around on my own and my muscles became atrophied.”

An athlete his entire life, Sebastian was used to playing football as a defensive lineman and throwing shotput and discus in track & field. But the treatment had wreaked havoc on his body and left him with the inability to do even the everyday activity of walking. The task of learning to walk again was extremely frustrating for this elite athlete.

“It was very difficult coming out of the hospital so I’m really grateful that I found LIVESTRONG,” Sebastian says. “It was a life changing moment for me.” LIVESTRONG is a wellness program designed to help adult cancer survivors reclaim their health and well-being following a cancer diagnosis. Throughout the 12 weeks of the program, participants meet twice a week to improve their strength and physical fitness to diminish the severity of therapy side effects through specially designed exercises.

One aspect of LIVESTRONG is the pre and post testing allowing participants to see the progress that they make throughout the 12 weeks. During his pre-test, Sebastian could only balance on 1 foot for 5 seconds, by the end of the program, he was able to balance for over a minute and felt he could have kept going. “The whole balancing issue and being able to stabilize myself was what really improved over the course of the program” Sebastian says. “It definitely pushed me to get back to as close to where I was pre-treatment and pre-cancer.”

Another hallmark of LIVESTRONG is the sense of camaraderie that is created amongst the survivors in the group. Sebastian explained that everyone enjoyed coming to class each week and getting to know one another. “We were there for different reasons but experiencing a lot of the same issues with what we had to recoup from the treatment,” Sebastian said.

According to Sebastian, what makes the Y stand out is the sense of community and the personal experience tailored to helping everyone who walks in the door. “It’s hard to put into words,” Sebastian says about the impact of the Y, “because it really did change a lot of my life after cancer.”

“The Y aims to improve the health and well-being of our communities by providing programs and activities that promote wellness, reduce risk for disease and help others reclaim their health. These programs and everything else the Y does are in service of making us—our Ys and our communities— better. “ The Y.™ For a better us.™