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17-year PA cancer survivor recaptures mojo thanks to “Active Living After Cancer”

Wilma Haliburton is known for not giving in.

The Port Arthur woman is a 17-year breast cancer survivor who has long been active in the community. Yet, COVID-19 slowed things down and kept her apart from the people and places she was used.

So she turned to a new program, Active Living After Cancer — sponsored by Gift of Life and MD Anderson Cancer Center.

“This program came at the perfect time for me,” Haliburton said. “ALAC has been outstanding and has gotten me back to being active. The camaraderie of everyone in the class is very helpful, especially when we can hear everyone’s highs and lows and their accomplishments with the program.”

Haliburton admits she felt like at a zero before starting.

“Everything I used to do — all my volunteer work — stopped,” she said. “But, today, I feel like I’m at 50 percent and I’m only going up from here.”

Cancer survivors interested in getting healthy this year can sign up for Active Living After Cancer and take advantage of the opportunity to reach their goals with a community of understanding fellow survivors and experts working to help them succeed.

“I encourage others to get involved,” Haliburton said. “Cancer survivors have to be careful with their health, especially during COVID. This program is a safe way to keep us moving.”

Hope renewed

A new year brings with it the hope for new opportunities and personal growth.

This year, Gift of Life is empowering all cancer survivors to make 2021 their year to thrive mentally, emotionally and physically.

The organization, in cooperation with MD Anderson Cancer Center, is offering all Southeast Texas cancer survivors who have completed chemotherapy and/or radiation the chance to participate in Active Living After Cancer, a free 12-week online course designed to nurture and support cancer survivors on their journey to complete health and wellness.

“I have really been enjoying the class,” said participant Jaqi Vickers, 68, of Beaumont, who is a four-year breast cancer survivor and member of Gift of Life’s Pink Power Network Breast Cancer Support Group.

“This program has given me the tools I needed to build my strength and become more aware of my everyday choices. I get calls and texts from the facilitator that encourage me to keep working hard. I feel more empowered to do more and try new exercises.”

In a virtual group setting, the classes improve quality of life and physical functioning by increasing physical activity, building nutritional knowledge and providing a supportive forum for survivors to speak openly and be understood about their cancer experience.

With daytime and evening classes, seminars are flexible for all schedules and provide the mental, emotional and physical foundation survivors need to be healthier.

Classes focus on reducing the risk of cancer recurrence, combating fatigue, managing stress and improving strength.

Seminars also build camaraderie among members at a time when COVID-19 has limited exercise and social interaction for immune-suppressed men and women.

For more information about Gift of Life and MD Anderson’s Active Living After Cancer seminars, visit giftoflifebmt.org or call 409-833-3663.