Candy’s Place, ‘like a big family,’ offers camaraderie, support to survivors
FORTY FORT — Instructor Joan Murphy used to lead separate sessions of the Beat Explosion! exercise program at The Center for Cancer Wellness, Candy’s Place.
But then everyone in the easier class dropped out and showed up for the more intensive one.
“They all wanted to be together,” she said.
Participants agree the camaraderie of the group, many of whom share a bond as breast cancer survivors, is at least as important as the workout that incorporates cardio and weights with music and aerobic dancing.
“I love the people here,” Brenda Thomas, 58, a four-year survivor from Kingston, said before a recent class. “We’re like a big family.”
“It’s a fabulous place,” Martha Price, 78, of West Pittston chimed in. “Anybody who doesn’t come here is crazy.”
“I’ve been coming here for 11 years,” said Annette Soltysiak, 73, of Wyoming, who had her first mastectomy 17 years ago and started out with a yoga class at Candy’s Place a few years before the Beat Explosion! class came to exist.
Last year, she had a second mastectomy, and the new friends she met at Candy’s Place helped her get through it.
“This is like my place to fall,” Soltysiak said. “It’s a place you can talk to people and not feel bad about yourself.”
Because of her surgery, Soltysiak said, she lost muscles and ligaments. “I can’t move my arms as easily as I used to, but exercise really helps.”
Breast cancer survivor Lorraine Cwalina, 77, of Swoyersville said she appreciates that each person in the class can proceed at her own speed. Some women hold onto a chair while they exercise, if they need that support.
Others begin to vigorously step side to side as soon as the music starts.
On a recent Monday morning, one of the first songs to play was 2014’s peppy number “Shut Up and Dance (With Me)” by a band called Walk the Moon.
“I used to be a polka dancer,” Cwalina said, adding she’s glad polka music is part of the class as well. “I’ve still got the rhythm in me.”
Candy’s Place, located in Suite 120 at 190 Welles St. in Forty Fort, also offers gentle yoga, massage therapy, reflexology, the healing art of Reiki and meditation. Services are free to cancer patients and their loved ones.
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT