Breast cancer survivor works to stay fit

It is now 10 years since 51-year-old New York City caseworker and breast cancer survivor Sandra Ferguson triumphed over the … During that time she has kept up a strict regimen of working to improve her health and educating others on how to do the same.

October 2010 is the 25th anniversary of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month created by enthused sponsors, explains Ferguson, who “set this time aside to put the focus on breast cancer”, educating victims, and hoping that ultimately a cure would be found.

This special month finds Ferguson involved with an ongoing educational program at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan called the Healthy Lifestyle Program 2010, where she and approximately 12 other participants are taking intense studies in nutrition designed to show the women how eating the right foods can be one factor in controlling cancer. They also learn the correlation between weight and the chance of developing breast cancer.

Upcoming topics include stress management control in combating the deadly disease, exercise, and personal evaluations. At the end of the sessions the class will “graduate” with a diploma in healthy living.

“The program includes 10-year survivors like me and even of 20 years, and the newly diagnosed,” Ferguson says. The older survivors help the new ones to adjust she reveals.

At the “meetings” she adds, “It is like we are going to school to learn healthy living lifestyles. These are (lessons) we will keep with us forever.” Ferguson further relates that they’re taught foods to avoid, for example, some with saturated fats, and “alternative” ways to prepare healthy foods that taste just as good.

With alternative foods, “You don’t have to eat that other junk!” she chuckles.

Asked what she personally gets out of these sessions, the mother of four, and grandmom to Jalen and Destiny, asserts: “I’m getting a lot out of it. Some things I did know, but the nutritionist talks to us individually and in-depth.” Faithfully leaving her eight-hour work day each Thursday until early November, she glibly hops the B-train to get to her downtown class.

“I wish I had gone to this class right after I had my surgery. I would recommend that others who have just had surgery or 10-, 20-, 25-year survivors, to go. I think it would be good for them.” On request she concluded thoughtfully and deliberately by leaving readers with ‘food for thought’ about healthy living choices:

“We do not know what causes cancer (yet) and we can’t control it; but we can control what we eat!”

Sandra Ferguson may be reached at: [email protected]

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