Fighting Cancer With Fitness

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fightcancerBonnie Oringer has always taken good care of herself and usually approached her regular mammogram with no sense of dread. But, in April of 2012, she had a “weird feeling,” she said, and asked her husband to come with her for her annual mammogram.

“I’ve always had a sixth sense about breast cancer,” says the Syosset resident, who noticed the technician focusing on one spot. “I could tell; I knew I had breast cancer.”

Her doctors told her she was a good candidate for a lumpectomy, but her sixth sense went into high gear and she decided to have a double mastectomy to remove both breasts.

When the biopsies came back after the operation, her breast surgeon said to her, “Guess what. You’ve saved your life.”

The biopsies revealed that she had a tumor in what was thought to be the unaffected breast, and this was a very aggressive type of cancer.

This “take charge” mentality is evident throughout Oringer’s life.

Oringer was a lawyer but, around 20 years ago, she realized that she was not as interested in the work as she felt she should be. She had always been passionate about exercise and fitness, and decided to make it her work. While lawyering part time, she obtained certification to teach group fitness, eventually building a career as a personal trainer and health coach.

Then came the cancer diagnosis in April 2012. During recovery, she realized there was a limit to what the physical therapy world could do to get her back up to strength. She researched ways to help herself and took a course, receiving a certificate as a cancer exercise specialist. Her decision helped her recovery.

“The realization that I could use the time following my diagnosis to restore myself to a level of fitness with which I could be happy gave me a new perspective,” she says.

Today, she has a private practice helping cancer patients in recovery and in treatment, providing a safe, non-threatening environment.

“Some people don’t feel comfortable going to a regular gym,” she says. “They can come to me in any condition.”

She also works with clients in their homes. Since September of 2013, Oringer has been the cancer exercise specialist at the Sid Jacobson JCC in East Hills, where twice a week, she and a social worker provide a comfortable environment for participants to talk and then exercise.

Oringer said her goal is to pay forward what exercise did for her.

“As a cancer survivor, I’m mindful of their needs,” she says. “I’ve walked in their shoes and it’s meaningful to them.” To learn more about Oringer, visit http://journeytowellnessllc.com/

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Lyn Dobrin is a writer for Long Island Weekly, specializing in food and travel features.

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