Breast Cancer … two words my mom said in 2016, and her life changed immediately. But she is a warrior and a survivor, and now she’s had two clean mammograms and a few years of getting stronger has passed. My mom lives outside of Edmonton and was fortunate to access the medical teams and support system with the Cross Cancer Institute at the University of Alberta, and she can’t say enough positive things about her care and the ancillary services and programmes.

Throughout her diagnosis and various stages of treatment, I was fortunate enough to travel to spend time with her during some of her medical appointments and meetings with her doctors. We had some lovely visits and days together amongst all the running around. She started with a lumpectomy, then a second lumpectomy surgery, followed by 6 chemotherapy treatments (spaced 3-weeks apart) and finally 20 radiation treatments. And then came the bell-ringing day and some after-effects, like neuropathy in her hands and feet and some lymphedema.

While I was there I was able to meet several of the women from her various groups and classes. One in particular that my mom raved about was the “Healing Connections” program and how much enjoyment she got attending the sessions and connecting with other women going through the same process. Every single woman that we met had a different story of treatments, symptoms and side-effects. No one had the same experience and it was inspiring to listen to them support each other as they overcame each obstacle.

When we opened up Active Health Solutions, I was inspired to help in the Breast Cancer community here in Prince George and I continued my reading and researching on this diagnosis. I contacted the Look Good, Feel Better coordinator and the Breast Cancer Care Coordinator at the Prince George Cancer Agency. As a result, we’ve been running our breast cancer survivor fitness class called Pink Power!!

The little blurb in the “Breast Cancer: Understanding your diagnosis” brochure says that “the benefits of exercise after breast cancer treatment include increased energy levels, less fatigue, anxiety and depression, improved cardiovascular fitness and higher self-esteem.” My vision was to create a class for breast cancer survivors that helps with all of this.

We work on shoulder and arm rehabilitation (to strengthen the upper body after a lumpectomy or mastectomy), core strength, mobility, and general fitness after a process of harsh treatments and side-effects (including lymphedema). This small group of women participate in their weekly fitness class and sometimes they connect over their shared experiences and recovery.

This is a passion project of mine and I am keen to support this community in any way I can. Look for Pink Power on the schedule – Thursday mornings at 11:00 am. Cheers to all my pink warriors!

~ Ann

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