Plans underway for Livestrong program kick-off

Jerry Lansing’s cancer challenged him, but he wasn’t going to let it beat him.

He had a business to run.

Cancer survivor Judy O’Neal said she needed a push.

The aftereffects of cancer treatments a number of years ago, plus diabetes, had reduced her cardiovascular level, strength and balance.

Dick Berg said he is more physically active now, in part because of what he learned.

The Marshalltonians have three things in common. They are cancer survivors, they used the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA’s Livestrong program to fight back against the insidious disease and all gained increased flexibility, endurance and strength.

Sue Fehrmann, Health and Wellness coordinator at the Y, now wants to see more people like Berg, Lansing and O’Neal take advantage of the program.

The Y is offering a fall Livestrong session beginning Sept. 16 and more participants are needed.

“Livestrong has proven to increase the balance, endurance and strength of all who regularly attend,” she said. “Additionally, cancer-survivors have found it helpful to talk openly about the disease with classmates.”

Livestrong is a free-of-charge, 12-week program tailored to fit the specific needs of cancer survivors who wish to improve their quality of life before, during and after treatment.

Classes meet twice weekly for approximately 75 minutes.

Included are instruction in cardio-enhancement, weight-training equipment, nutrition, stretching and yoga.

Anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer is eligible, and one does not have to be a Y member to join the program.

Founded in 1997 by cancer survivor and cyclist Lance Armstrong, the Livestrong Foundation advocates for the estimated 28 million people around the world living with cancer today.

Armstrong fought back against testicular cancer, and wanted to provide resources to others for their challenges.

Lansing regained some of his strength, endurance and balance by regularly walking the Y’s track and using fitness machines. He exercises regularly on the job, he said, by loading and unloading equipment as owner of Triple A Portable Toilets.

O’Neal is a self-employed beautician at Divine Designs in Marshalltown.

“I really did improve in several areas,” O’Neal said. “I was stronger, especially in my upper body, my cardiovascular level was better and so was my balance. I could not believe how my balance was off before we started.”

Anne and Dick Berg of Marshalltown were active physically before being afflicted with cancer, but Livestrong gave them incentive to exercise on a regular basis.

“We like to exercise at home, play golf and take our grandkids to the swimming pool,” Dick said. “After taking the Livestrong sessions, we know how important it is to remain active on a regular basis. We’ll definitely be at the Y more when the weather changes.”

Val Ruff, Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center Foundation director, said she would take the program again.

“I highly recommend Livestrong for any cancer-survivor,” Ruff said. “It gave me an opportunity to network with other cancer survivors, and the twice-weekly exercise routine gave me the motivation to begin my own running program after our session concluded.”

Fehrmann said 64 participants have graduated since the program was implemented two years ago, and that a number of cancer survivors continue to exercise at the Y or home.

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

Editor’s Note: Reporter Mike Donahey is a certified Livestrong instructor with the Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA.