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Fit Minute - Cancer survivors exercise together for support

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Doctors say working out helps cancer survivors reduce their risk of a relapse. There is a program that helps them come together to support each other while they exercise. It's called Livestrong at the YMCA.

On Oct. 1, Alice Choma learned to use all the machines at the YMCA in Wilmington.

"I was pretty familiar with most of the machines because I have worked out in the past," Choma said.

And, she said she'll continue to work out even after only two sessions.

"I went back to work and I was feeling energetic all day," Choma said.

Energy like that comes and goes for Choma. Sometimes the cancer just sucks it out of her.

"I have breast cancer," Choma said.

Choma said she was diagnosed in December 2012. The registered nurse manager had to get a mastectomy and go through chemo and radiation.

"I've worked full time through my treatment," Choma said.

Even after all that, she decided she needed to start exercising.

"I think it's very important to feel strong and empowered when you are faced with something so overpowering," Choma said.

She's not the only one. All the people with whom she exercises are part of Livestrong at the YMCA.

"We work with them for 12 weeks and there are two to three personal trainers with them at all times," said personal trainer Lori Campbell.

It's a support system that Campbell said gives those who've had or still have cancer some control.

"They can see the results and feel good about doing more than they were before," Campbell said. "Everything doesn't have to revolve around the next doctor's visit."

Campbell knows what that's like. She beat both thyroid cancer and leukemia.

"That puts me in a different place now. Before I thought I was above it all and thought I'm fit, I work out, I exercise and I try to eat good, I got this under control," Campbell said. "Cancer can strike anybody, anywhere, any level, any age."

"Once you have cancer you always feel like you're vulnerable to it," Choma said.

And, even though it's cancer that brought the participants together, it's hope that will keep them going.

"They see others who've done the same thing they've done and they're past the point they are and they see that hope," Campbell said.

Livestrong at the YMCA is a free program and graduates get a free six-month membership.

Choma said she won't find out if she's cancer free until the end of the year.

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