Local cancer survivors make fitness video to inspire others

TONAWANDA, N.Y.–

A group of cancer survivors from Western New York are working to inspire others in similar situations through fitness. They created an exercise video to encourage people to get up and get moving.

Moving, stretching and dances are all things Diane Lyons never thought she would be doing a year ago.

“I felt as though I’d never get back to my old self again,” Lyons, of Tonawanda said.

She was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2015. She says the treatments were so tough on her body, her brother had to push her to even get up.

“He would come over and say, ‘No you need to at least sit up,’ and he would walk me around the house and I felt better doing that,” she said.

Her brother, Al Festaiuti, is a certified personal trainer. Diane’s experience gave the two the idea to make an exercise video for other cancer survivors.

“We’re hoping to try to show people out there who are going through treatments or survivors after that you could be there again,” Lyons said.

Seven cancer survivors are part of the 22 minute video. It starts with testimonials from each of them. Festaiuiti leads the group in several segments, including cardio, upper and lower body and stretching.

“Being cancer survivors and cancer patients, they’re limited as to what they can do as far as exercise, so I made it very low impact,” Festaiuti said. He said the goal is not only to get moving, but also to laugh.

The group took a picture wearing cancer survivor shirts with Festaiuti holding a sign that said “cancer you lose.” The video also shows the group holding signs with encouraging words like “never give up” and “stay strong.”

So far the positive message has reached family and friends, and they want it to touch everyone it can.

“It just moves them to tears. It absolutely moves them to tears.” Lyons said.

The video is not for sale, but it’s available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BaODq3w6W0&t=235s.

Lyons and Festaiuti said they’re also talking to doctors at Roswell Park Cancer Institute to get their feedback on it. They’re thinking of making another video for cancer patients currently undergoing through treatment.

Lyons said doctors just told her last week she’s now cancer free.

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