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Livestrong program gives cancer survivors renewed energy and spirit

Marshalltown Y staff have assisted 40 participants to date

December 22, 2012
By MIKE DONAHEY - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

Cancer survivor Marno Batterson still wears a bright yellow Livestrong bracelet.

To Batterson, it signifies the commitment athlete and benefactor Lance Armstrong made to help others fight the disease which once afflicted him.

And it also represents her ongoing fight against cancer.

Article Photos

Marno Batterson, of rural Jasper County, is shown working out on an elliptical machine at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA Friday afternoon. Batterson participated in and completed a 12-week Livestrong program for cancer survivors last June.

Batterson, of rural Jasper County, has been fighting the disease for a number of years.

Chemotherapy robbed her of energy and she wanted it back.

Then she heard about the Livestrong program for cancer survivors at the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA.

A cancer survivor is defined as one who has been diagnosed with the disease, is receiving treatment, or recovering.

Batterson said she called the Y, signed up immediately, and began attending classes last April.

"The program got me out of the house, and after a few weeks, I noticed I was getting stronger and had more energy," she said.

Batterson, like other Livestrong participants nationwide, has been inspired by Armstrong's personal battle.

He was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and learned later it had spread to other parts of his body.

The prognosis was not good.

But Armstrong fought back and the cancer went into remission.

He wanted to share his experience and help others. Consequently, with medical professionals and others, he created a 12-week program to improve a cancer survivor's attitude and physical well-being.

It is free-of-charge.

A survivor's spouse, or caregiver, may also participate free-of-charge.

Program goals feature increasing flexibility and endurance, enhancing functional ability to do everyday tasks, improving energy level, building muscle mass and strength, reducing the severity of therapy side-effects, preventing unwanted weight changes and installing a desire to develop a fitness program as a way of life.

Batterson, who had been active physically prior to cancer, finished in June and continues to work out at the Y three times per week.

"We live near the Jasper County-Marshall County line and it is 21 miles door to door," she said. "I gained strength from Livestrong and wish to maintain."

The Y implemented Livestrong in October, 2011.

Angie Paxson, Y Health and Wellness director, and Sue Fehrmann, Fitness Coordinator, direct the program with assistance from several instructors.

Now, twice-weekly classes, each 75-minutes, include instruction in cardio exercises, use of weight-lifting equipment, nutrition, aqua-aerobics, and yoga, among other disciplines.

"After Livestrong, I started taking yoga on a regular basis and it has helped me tremendously," Batterson said.

Workouts are tailored to fit the specific needs of those who wish to improve the quality of life before, during and after cancer.

"Livestrong positively impacts each person differently," said Mary Wertzberger, certified Marshalltown Y Livestrong instructor. "For some, Livestrong gives them the opportunity to connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges. For others, it gives them the chance to be physically active once again ... to regain strength and balance which has been lost to cancer or treatments. Livestrong is truly unique and workouts can be tailored to each cancer survivor's individual needs."

Cancer survivor Judy O'Neal of Marshalltown said she needed a push.

"I was out-of-shape and needed to get going," she said.

The after-effects of cancer treatments, plus diabetes, had reduced her cardiovascular endurance level, strength and balance.

The Livestrong program provided the push O'Neal needed.

O'Neal completed the 12-week program one year ago and improved across the board.

"I gained strength, especially in my upper body," she said. "My cardiovascular level became better and my balance improved dramatically."

O'Neal credited the program and instructors.

"It was great having my own personal trainer at times," she said. "They really pushed me. I loved LIvestrong and would recommend it to any cancer survivor."

Fehrmann said she and staff are pleased so many have benefited.

"We have celebrated nearly 15 months of working with the Livestrong program, Fehrmann said, "and we are pleased with the results so far. We have helped approximately 40 cancer survivors ... men and women ... in their fight against that insidious disease. Hopefully, in 2013, we will be able to help more. I urge those thinking about joining to call and join us."

A new session of evening classes, held Mondays and Wednesdays, begins at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 7.

Day classes, held Mondays and Wednesdays, begins at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 14.

For more information contact Fehrmann at 641-752-8658 or

Editor's note: Reporter Donahey is employed by the Marshalltown Y as a Livestrong instructor.



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