KCK YMCA program gives those battling cancer confidence, hope for brighter future

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- This weekend folks will “Rock, Roll, and Run” a local race potentially not realizing how much their participation means to some who are fighting for their lives.

At the Providence YMCA in KCK, John Casner has found his second home in the gym. Every leg press, and every glide on the elliptical means more to him than one might know.

“I went through six weeks of radiation and six weeks of chemo treatment, and then two months later I believe it was August 17th I had surgery to remove the cancer,” said Casner.

He was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2012, which he said has brought him closer to God. It also brought him to the YMCA`s "Livestrong" program, which gives cancer survivors fitness, nutrition, and overall health and well-being support. Most importantly it helps them reclaim their confidence.

"It`s hard at first. Some of them can barely do anything and by the end of the program they`re doing so much just to see them. I literally have people in tears when they see their results,” said instructor Robin Gerber who runs the Livestrong program.

“Some people are walking two minutes and saying they`re exhausted, and now they`ll be several of our survivors out there doing the whole 5K on Saturday,” said Scott Clark, YMCA of greater Kansas City Vice President of operations.

Proceeds from Saturday “Rock, Roll & Run” 5K directly benefit the Livestrong, which also extends a free membership to the participant`s family.

“Mom and dad can come, or their spouse or whoever to help be there and support them along their journey knowing that the whole family is suffering during this period of time,” said Clark.

The YMCA says the program has had great results in its six years.

“A lot of the physicians actually refer people to us because they want their journey to go a little bit faster, and they`ll heal a little faster mentally and physically,” said Gerber.

After a recent visit with his oncologist, Casner is looking ahead to brighter future.

“He said everything looked good. My markers were good. He said now I only have to come in once a year,” said Casner.

He`s thanking his friends at the YMCA for helping him get there. Saturday's race takes place at Providence Medical Center Amphitheater in Bonner Springs.

The race starts at 8 a.m., followed by a free kids run, and health fair. Spots are still available.

Click here for race details.