A Support Group with Sweat

When Kim Hamill moved to Texas from Florida just weeks after her breast cancer diagnosis, her friend came along, and not just to help unpack. She cleaned floors, stripped wallpaper, textured walls, painted rooms, moved furniture, hung wall decorations.

She did, well, “everything,” says Kim. “She didn’t want me dealing with anything while taking treatment. That was just so great, but I appreciated it even more once I found out how important a support system is when you’re fighting cancer.”

No wonder when Kim learned that best bud Pam Vandergriff was diagnosed with breast cancer, she hovered around Pam like a protective momma bear. Guess who was at Pam’s first doctor’s appointment, a pad and pen at the ready?

Now the two are paying forward in a different way, and helping others as they help themselves.

Thanks to the HOPE program at Texas Health Arlington Memorial, an exercise program specifically designed for survivors of all types of cancer, Pam and Kim get a chance to not only continue to inspire one another but others going through a similar ordeal.

It’s like a support group with sweat.

Pam and Kim attend a cardio/strength class and Yoga, which fitness instructor Beth Harrison says stimulates and balance body systems including musculoskeletal, nervous, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, endocrine and reproductive.

When not in class, they roam the exercise area lifting weights, walking the track or treadmill, pedaling the cycle machine.

“We realized early on that this felt like more of a support group than our support groups,” says Kim. “Anything that’s going on, we talk about it. If someone is deciding what direction to take, we can tell them what we did. I just know how much talking to someone helped me so I knew those I met would appreciate the help as well.”

Pam and Kim attend their classes religiously, and look forward to them each week. When one can’t make it, they phone the other to let them know.

“Look, I couldn’t have gotten through this without Kim,” says Pam. “She told me so much ahead of time that nothing was a surprise. Oh, I have to do that? And that? The idea of helping someone else, even while we’re sweating a little bit, is something I’ll do gladly.”

To learn more about the HOPE program at Texas Health Arlington Memorial, visitTexasHealth.org/Arlington-HOPE.

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