TRAVERSE CITY — Jean Mahoney expected to experience some side effects after her double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer.
What she didn’t expect is how fragile she would feel and how frightened she would be to become active again.
“When I was finished with all my radiation and surgery, I couldn’t load the dishwasher. My arm didn’t go that high,” Mahoney said. “Everything is broken. Nothing works. You’ve lost complete confidence in your body’s ability to do anything. You don’t know how to exercise, what to do.”
Then Mahoney heard a about a new cancer exercise program called The Journey Program. The free 10-week group exercise program for cancer survivors up to two years post-treatment aims to help participants regain confidence, independence and functionality after cancer.
“This is a program to get you strong and get you to do the things you want to do,” said Mahoney, who was so impressed with the program that afterwards she decided to become a certified personal trainer and now is the area’s only certified cancer exercise specialist.
Now she and business partner Annemarie Wigton, a certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in health fitness in preventive and rehabilitative studies, are owners and directors of the five-year-old program. They recently expanded it from Traverse City to Frankfort.
Classes meet for an hour twice a week at Anytime Fitness in Traverse City and at the Betsie Hosick Health and Fitness Center in Frankfort. After a 10-minute warm-up, participants work with the women and personal trainer Jessica Carland on balance and form and on strength, cardio and core training.
“After cancer treatment, they’re so weak and tired. They don’t know their bodies anymore. It’s a loss of direction for many,” said Wigton. “This gives them confidence and independence so they can go on with their lives and feel they won’t hurt themselves.”