Mary's Y Story

Group work

The inspiring story of a Skagit Valley Family YMCA member fighting cancer and finding hope through LIVESTRONG.

Mary grew up in Mount Vernon and attended the local Catholic school just up the street from the Fulton Street YMCA. She loved the small town that she grew up in and moved back to Mount Vernon after serving in the military for several years and being medically retired. In February 2018, Mary was a young, single mom of two boys when she was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer.

The next few months were a blur of doctor’s appointments, surgery, tests, medication, and radiation that led to scars, pain, and depression. “It was one of the worst parts of my life, but I wanted to be around to meet my grandkids one day.”

During this time, Mary had access to a local gym but was too tired from the radiation to get up and go. A friend knew that she was struggling and asked her to join her at the Skagit Valley Family Y, but Mary thought she couldn’t afford a Y membership due to her ever-growing pile of medical bills. “Cancer is very draining on you not only physically and mentally, but also financially.” Eventually agreeing to try the Y, Mary found that she qualified for a discount through the Y’s membership assistance program.

Soon after joining, a staff member told her about LIVESTRONG at the Y, a support group for those who have or have had cancer. Mary enrolled in the next session, which turned her life around. The facilitator was Mary’s cheerleader when she didn’t have the energy to keep going. “She pulled me out of one of the darkest times in my life and gave me faith in myself.”

In the LIVESTRONG program, participants work out together, then attend a health program where they hear from a guest speaker or have time to share their stories. “No one wants to be in this situation, but unfortunately that’s not something you can control, what you can control is whether or not you go through this journey alone.”

Seeing how helpful the LIVESTRONG program was, Mary also joined the Y Weight Loss program. At Y Weight Loss, she learned to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Appropriate, Reasonable, Timely) goals for her overall health and identify strategies to meet those goals. “Thanks to LIVESTRONG and Y Weight Loss, I’m no longer sitting around waiting for the next thing to happen to me, I’m taking control of my life. LIVESTRONG and Y Weight Loss have helped me start a new chapter in my life.”

“LIVESTRONG and the people that I met changed everything for me.” Through the Y, Mary is on her way to achieving her overall health goals. “Now, everything looks brighter. All of my doctors are so proud of me. They say I’m a completely different person after joining LIVESTRONG and Y Weight Loss. That’s why I stopped in to tell you my story; I feel invincible. I’m so grateful for you guys at the Y. You saved my life.”

“Instead of being on a roller coaster where I’m strapped down and just going along for the ride, I finally have control of my life back. I have been purging my life of anything that is unhealthy for my mind, body, and spirit. 2019 is a year of transition where I feel like I can be who I’m supposed to be.”

Learn more about LIVESTRONG at the Y.


Spring 2019 Session begins March 12th!