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YMCA Pink Classes

YMCA, UR Medicine Partner to Highlight Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Rochester, NY – In October of 2021, Amanda Black had just completed her first marathon leading up to her 40th birthday. And with turning 40, she went for her first mammogram.

“Despite being the healthiest I had ever been in my life, cancer still found me,” said Black. “I had run a marathon, turned 40 and was diagnosed with cancer all within three weeks.”

Black, a member at the Eastside Family YMCA, called it a whirlwind of a time. She underwent treatment and now one year later is in remission and feeling her energy coming back.

About five years ago, Ida Caviness, also a member at the Eastside Family YMCA, received the same diagnosis after going for her annual mammogram.

“Since I started doing LIVESTRONG, I’ve been working out, I’ve been doing yoga and I’m doing some stretches and other things,” said Caviness. “And I can say, I’m starting to get there. I’m just living life, trying to stay strong and healthy.”

Both Black and Caviness worked with Dr. Alissa Huston, an oncologist with the Wilmot Cancer Institute.

“The University of Rochester and the YMCA of Greater Rochester have a longstanding community partnership and I see for our patients being able to have programs like LIVESTRONG to connect them with, to help maintain that level of activity which we know important, and for providers to be able to engage to keep themselves healthy and well so that they’re able to best care for their patients.”

Dr. Huston stresses the importance of not only exercise, but also the impact your support system can have on your recovery and journey.

“It’s important, when you’ve had a cancer diagnosis, no matter what treatments you may have ahead of you, to have support,” said Dr. Huston. “That may be a support group you attend, family support, your exercise class. Community support can really help, I see, as my patients go through treatment to get them through to that finish line.”

When it comes to that support, Black certainly felt it from the Y.

“I thought that through the Y, I was keeping my body and mind healthy while training for my marathon, but little did I know that the Y would help me in so many more ways,” she said. “When I couldn’t be here physically at the Y, [members] would offer encouragement, bring me meals and check in.”

“As women, we have to be in circles of people who are conscious of health and always listening to our body,” said Caviness. “Getting time to rest and putting that time into knowing there’s nothing going on with our bodies that we’re not aware of.”

Caviness always talks about her journey whenever she has the chance. Both she and Dr. Huston say that it is crucial to keep the conversation going beyond the month of October.

“All year it’s important to be mindful of our overall health, to be aware of changes, to stay up on your screenings to help identify anything early,” she said.

To help encourage and make sure our members, especially women 40 and older, are scheduling their mammograms and staying up to date on regular breast cancer screenings, the YMCA is partnering with UR Medicine | Highland Hospital to host a series of Pink Classes across all of our locations. Pink Classes will take place from October 11 through October 21, National Mammography Day. Pink Classes will feature favorite classes of members, with instructors highlighting the importance of breast cancer awareness and regular screenings.

One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, and we are proud to do our part to help support them before, during and after their diagnosis. A full list of Pink Classes can be found here. To learn more about breast cancer awareness and regular screenings, click here.