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Getting in the Spirit

by UPMC Susquehanna

Whether we face a diagnosis ourselves or a family member, friend or neighbor does, at some point cancer touches each of us. As Colleen Hawk of Jersey Shore will tell you, fighting the disease is both physically and emotionally taxing, and the importance of being able to heal in the company of those who understand cannot be underestimated. Colleen decided to attend a cancer survivorship event promoted by UPMC Susquehanna’s Spirit of Women program that caught her eye, and the people she met there changed her life. “You feel heard, and you know you aren’t alone,” she says. “There are people out there who share your same struggles, and they have the same questions and fears. Spirit understands, and they have solutions.”

Through the Spirit program, Colleen discovered new wellness resources and fun, creative ways to stay healthy, such as tailored YMCA exercise programs and survivorship workout groups. “There is so much knowledge to be had—so many great services you don’t even realize are available—and Spirit does a great job of connecting you with those services,” she says. “Spirit also tackles subjects many women don’t feel comfortable talking about with their family doctors,” explains Colleen. “When it comes to topics like pelvic health or gynecological surgery, women have questions about what’s going on. To be able to sit at a presentation and hear your concerns echoed is really affirming. Something as simple as knowing the most effective way to sit when going to the bathroom posthysterectomy is a game-changer that’s just not talked about anywhere else.”

Colleen and her girlfriends relish the opportunity for a fun night out while doing something great for their health. “You don’t always make time for yourself, especially when you’re caught up in a hectic family or work schedule,” she says. “Spirit lets you take advantage of health experts in fields that really matter to you and your family, as well as a ton of free screenings all in one place.” She recommends Spirit of Women to everyone she knows. “It can be hard to carve out time for your own health, but Spirit makes that easier,” Colleen says. “It’s social, educational and an absolute blast!”