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Dozens who have survived or are fighting cancer gain strength from KC crossfit group

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A group of metro women are supporting each other in the fight against cancer. Crossfit Memorial Hill, on Jefferson Street near downtown KC, is offering a class for cancer survivors and people fighting the disease. The program is supposed to help with fatigue, chemo-brain, weight gain and muscle loss and much more.

The group meets every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.

“We think of cancer as sickness and cancer is weakness but really our cancer survivors are really strong mentally and emotionally, they are just physically beat up.” said Sami Mansfield, an Oncology Exercise Specialist who teaches the class. She came up with the idea to start the class last September.

“There’s nothing more powerful than the person standing next to you knowing what it’s like to hear ‘you have cancer,’ she said.

FOX 4 interviewed Denise Johnson, who was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer six years ago. She said the normal lifespan for somebody diagnosed is two to six months. She said she was one of the lucky 20 percent of people who got to go into surgery.

Johnson said she has remained cancer free for years but last September had a re-occurrence. She said that’s when she found herself in this crossfit class.

“When you are going through cancer, somebody who hasn’t been there doesn’t understand,” she told FOX 4.

She said she was exhausted from seven days in a row of chemo every other week and needed to find something to get her energy back. Johnson said she started using small two pound weights and is now able to lift 10-pound weights.

“When you physically feel better, you can emotionally feel better,” she said.

Jane McGrade, who was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, said the class makes her feel whole again.

“I used to wonder if there would be any days I wouldn’t think about cancer at least several times a day,” she said.

She said the class helped her let go of cancer as a fixation.

The class is also open to men, not just women. The next session begins the week of September 12th. You can visit the gym’s website for more information.