In a world of Karadshians and Instagram where images are heavily filtered and photoshopped, a healthy lifestyle can appear to be completely unrelatable and unattainable. But in the EFM gym at Sunshine Hospital, a group of breast cancer survivors symbolise what real #fitspo is – fun, fitness and friendships.
The group's initial connection came through Western Health's BreastWest program. BreastWest provides practical support to patients from diagnosis and for the duration of their treatment for breast cancer. As part of the program they received a complimentary 12-week EFM Gym membership - that was more than 2 years ago. Now every Monday and Thursday, Rita, Debbie, Anita, Aysen, Gay and Elsa get together to socialise…and workout.
Most of the group travel out of their way to make the twice weekly fitness sessions, some passing multiple gyms along the way. But for them, it's worth the extra travel because this gym has something that those other gyms don't have – each other. Gym trainer Jarrod has forged a close bond with the group. He knows their individual limitations and provides modifications or alternate exercises to accommodate any scarring and injuries.
"It's amazing that this started as a 12-week complimentary program and now these women have completed over 250 sessions. I can't keep them away!" said Jarrod.
Undergoing breast cancer treatment is a physical and mental challenge. Utilising the benefits of the BreastWest program, the EFM Gym membership gives patients a feeling of having a level of control over their treatment. This group of women have enjoyed the physical benefits of exercise with the added bonus of long lasting friendships and support.
"When I started the program, I was in treatment and feeling self-conscious and wearing a wig," said Anita. "By the end of my first session, I was hot and sweaty. I'd stopped feeling self-conscious and took off the wig. It's a comfortable environment because we've all been through the same journey and have had similar challenges along the way."
The BreastWest program is fully funded by donations made through the Western Health Foundation. You can make a donation to support people facing a breast cancer diagnosis by donating online or calling the Foundation on 8345 7660.