Finding Friendship through HOPE

The first time Madeleine Morrison and Helen Holland met they chatted non-stop about lifting weights, sweating, running, walking, and whether they could actually get through a cardio strength class intact.

They also talked cancer and losing hair and doctors and support and husbands and spirituality and how long would it take for that numbness in parts of their body to go away. They hit it off and couldn’t wait for day two.

Surviving cancer and making it through treatment are certainly major feats, but for survivors like Madeleine and Helen, post-cancer is often shifting swiftly into a different goal gear in life: keeping cancer from returning.

That’s where the HOPE program at Texas Health Arlington Memorial comes in. Tons of research supports the notion that exercising and good nutrition helps maximize long-term health for cancer patients, current and former. Embedded in the fine print of research is how beneficial it is to have an exercise partner who has gone through similar trials.

Madeleine enjoyed aerobics and jazzercise before cancer and chemotherapy relegated her to the sidelines. She could barely lift her arm over her head.

Helen was a semi-regular at her local YMCA before being diagnosed in 2002. A friend from church, assuring her of a “different” sort of experience, suggested Texas Health Arlington Memorial.

“At the time, I really couldn’t see how different it could be,” Helen says.

The first day at a cardio strength class she knew. She met Madeleine.

“Being with someone who knows what you’ve been through, it makes a big difference,” says Helen.

The two often lift weights together; walk inside on bad days and outside on good ones. Rarely do they miss the cardio strength class and especially their beloved Zumba. HOPE also offers Tai Chi, lifestyle conditioning and Yoga.

Their favorite comfort line for newcomers: “This Too Shall Pass.”

“We’re that support system for them, even while we’re sweating,” says Madeleine. “Just like someone helped us, we like to let them know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It will get better.”

To learn more about the HOPE program at Texas Health Arlington Memorial, visit

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