After having breast cancer twice (one year after the other), I was so weak from treatments that I joined the health club from the hospital which was located in the basement of the Frederick Co., MD, YMCA. I found myself drawn to the Y pool there and joined – my first class: aqua arthritis – I could barely swim across the short length of their large pool, not even one lap the long length, even though I had been a strong swimmer before cancer. However, it was just what I needed to start on a campaign back to strength and stamina. I also tried walking my dogs in a 25 acre park, but I could barely walk up the first hill when we would start out and then we would have to turn around and go home. Then there was a path through the woods on our property which needed to be mulched. I could barely do one wheelbarrow full before I had to rest and come back another day.
As I progressed in aqua arthritis, I began trying out other Y aqua classes. One day my arthritis teacher said to me, Virginia, why don’t you join my synchronized swimming class? I was stunned! I said, “I can’t do that.” She said, “Yes you can, you know all the moves.” So I thought I’d go Saturday, mostly to show them that I couldn’t do it but I tried, then I could stay home. They were all terrific, of course. One woman, ten years older than me, said, “Well, you gotta start somewhere.” I was lousy, but the women were all so nice to me, never mentioned how awful I was, and I stayed for three and one half years before our coach retired. I took other classes too. I loved it and mentioned to the aquatics director if they ever needed an arthritis instructor, I’d like to do that. She said, you’re the perfect person, we’ll send you to school to be certified. And so, I became an instructor, teaching aqua arthritis and eventually deep water work out, and others. I’ve been teaching for about 10 – 11 years and love it. I read up on all kinds of helpful information I could pass on to people to improve their movements and relieve pain. I still do. And, the mulch path got finished, I returned with dogs for our long walks at the park. I was a new person, and I plan to never give it up, even if I can’t teach – I have to keep moving. All because someone said, “You gotta start somewhere!”