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For women who have experienced breast cancer, the associated physical effects can be extremely challenging. Side effects from surgery can include physical discomfort, immobility and emotional vulnerability, leaving survivors feeling uncomfortable and lacking in confidence.
Part of YWCA’s work empowering women of all ages involves providing support and empowerment to women who are experiencing or have experienced breast cancer.
Since 2005, the YWCA Auckland has facilitated a free exercise programme called Encore, designed specifically for breast cancer survivors to help them combat the physical effects and aid in their recovery.
Encore is an eight week programme that uses gentle exercise and healthy lifestyle information to increase strength, flexibility and blood flow and reduce the effects of lymphoedema (painful swelling), that some women experience following treatment. The programme will work to relieve these problems through gentle floor exercises, breathing exercises, stretching and water-based exercises. The programme has been proven to have benefits for all women who have undergone surgery, be it 10 weeks or 10 years ago.
The programme also provides a fun and positive environment for women to find peer support and enjoyment during any stage of their recovery. This gives survivors a chance to connect with others who have endured a similar experience. Beyond that, it helps them to regain a sense of self.
YWCA Encore is delivered by local facilitators around the country, many of whom are breast cancer survivors and past participants of Encore. All facilitators are trained and supported by YWCA Auckland and funding has come from The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, as well as from local groups.
Every woman who has gone through Encore recommends it. Winnie Laban, one such participant, says “I just think Encore’s a fantastic programme, I would recommend it for anyone. It was an opportunity for me to be with other women who were breast cancer survivors, and I looked forward to going each week.”
Whether you’ve just had your surgery or are years down the road from recovery, YWCA Encore is a place for support and healing. The Encore programme will start in May taking place on Sunday evenings between 6pm and 8pm.
The programme is free to all women who have had breast cancer treatment, however registrations are essential, as medical approval is required. Visit www.akywca.org.nz for more information and enrolment forms, or contact Lynnette O’Connor on 021 0821 3776 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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