Watertown YMCA offering free membership to breast cancer survivors, their families


WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Breast cancer survivors and their families now have a new way of “reclaiming their health” in the Watertown community.

The Watertown Family YMCA just received grant funding from the Saint Agatha Foundation which helps provide financial assistance to those impacted by breast cancer in Central New York. With this new funding, the YMCA now is offering free membership to local survivors and their families.

The program in Watertown is called “Laurie’s Light,” as the Saint Agatha Foundation was founded in honor of Laurie Mezzalingua, a breast cancer patient who died after a 12-year fight.

Local survivors who have been diagnosed in the last three years are now eligible for a free year membership, along with their family members, which includes a year of free programming for children.

According to Senior Director of Health and Wellness Michelle Graham, this will allow families to continue further on the road of recovery together.

“It is really, truly all about it being positive and embracing that journey of the whole person,” Graham said.” And their family embracing complete health and wellness here at the YMCA, and really being able to participate in all the things that we have offer.”

Graham also leads the Live Strong at the YMCA program, which is a free 12-week program open to all cancer patients and survivors. It includes physical activities, support groups, guest speakers and more.

The Watertown YMCA is also welcoming back the North Country Cancer Support group which will meet every third Thursday. It officially was rebooting on October 21 after a long pause due to COVID-19 concerns.

Graham said that leading these programs touches her personally as her husband is a cancer survivor. She said these opportunities combined with the free membership, is the YMCA’s multifaceted approach to supporting survivors and establishing a positive community.

“It is multifaceted. It’s forever engaging, and of course, we want it to be super positive,” she added. “We are so thrilled to be in this space and so excited to be able to offer this to our community at large. We can’t wait to see really where things go with this.”

Those interested in Watertown YMCA’s “Laurie’s Light” program can call Michelle Graham at 315-782-3100.

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