North Canton resident Marilyn Davies has a goal that is similar to goals of many others. She wants to stay healthy.

What makes Davies different is that she is in remission from mantle cell lymphoma, a rare non-Hodgkin lymphoma that most often affects men over age 60.

Her goal to stay healthy is what drove her to enroll in Living Strong Living Well, a 12-week, small group strength and fitness training program designed for adult cancer survivors, offered at the North Canton YMCA. Davies joined the program last October after recovering from a bone-marrow transplant.

The class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:15 a.m. at the Y. On Tuesdays, Cathy Cooper, a registered dietitian from Aultman North Canton Medical Group, meets with the class for a half-hour to talk about nutrition as it relates to cancer. In a recent meeting, she led a discussion about anti-cancer compounds that can be found in foods.

No topic of conversation relating to their cancer diagnoses is off limits, though, as the group members feel comfortable around each other to talk about their challenges and successes.

“The group, they become family,” said Rudi Hiney, referring to the class leaders and participants, alike. Hiney is the personal training and specialized exercise director at the Y and oversees the program. “They become each other’s cheerleaders.”

“It’s a little support system” said Pam Grant, a Plain Township resident who began the program about a month ago. “There’s the nutrition and, of course, the exercise. I really, really like it.”

“I’m always looking for the positive,” she added. “And I don’t have to look too long here.”

After the meeting with Cooper, class members can either work with one of two personal trainers dedicated to the class or exercise on their own using a workout program developed by the trainers. On Thursdays, the class meets as a group for individual exercise programs that are supervised by the personal trainers. Exercises focus on balance, strength and endurance.

While the class is a 12-week program, participants can enroll at any time. A physician referral is not necessary to join the program, Hiney said. However, medical clearance is required in case a participant has exercise limitations or restrictions.

“Whoever is on your wellness journey or your team needs to be aware and on the same page,” Hiney said.

Participants undergo a pre- and post-program assessment so that progress can be monitored said Michelle Wintrow, who, along with Tammy Falcone, is one of the trainers working with the class.

LIving Strong Living Well was developed by Stanford University. It was first implemented in a YMCA in California in 2002, and has since been implemented in YMCAs throughout the country. The North Canton YMCA began the program in 2008.

The first 12-week program is free, and participants can extend enrollment in the program for $30 per session. There is no charge for YMCA members.

Funds raised by the YMCA’s annual Tour de Vaughn help offset the cost of the program. Tour de Vaughn is held in memory of Vaughn Prude, a YMCA fitness instructor who died from prostate cancer in 2005. This year’s fundraiser is Sunday, Oct. 19, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Y. Hiney said she hopes that the Y will be able to offer an evening program with funds raised.

As for Davies, she is feeling well, well enough to go hiking with friends in Nova Scotia last July.

“I try to eat right and exercise,” she said. “If it (cancer) comes back, I can say I did everything I could. Good health is a gift, and sometimes we take it for granted.”