Support Through Fitness
By Rebecca Hanlon
As Yariv Kafri underwent surgery, chemotherapy and targeted radiation for his stage IV non–small cell lung cancer in 2013, the seasoned athlete—who before his illness and treatment could often be found training for a triathlon, playing soccer or doing yoga—lost most of his physical strength. A neighborhood walk with his wife became too difficult.
After finishing chemotherapy in January 2014, Kafri, now 49, of Roslyn, New York, started taking Xalkori (crizotinib) to manage his cancer and slowly began rebuilding his muscle mass and endurance.
“I wanted to be active again because it was such a big part of my life,” says Kafri, the CEO of a technology company.
Exercise helped him take his mind off cancer and how weak it made him feel. He wanted to share the physical and mental benefits of exercise with others who have been affected by the disease, so in May 2014 he started Supportersize
, an organization that hosts free group fitness events in the New York City area for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers.
Supportersize has offered outdoor yoga classes, hiking and stand-up paddleboarding, along with indoor cycling classes during the winter. So far, about 200 people have taken part in the activities, which are led by volunteer instructors who are cancer survivors or who have a family member with cancer.
Kafri says the activities are not competitive and allow individuals to work at their own level. Participants help each other through motivating workouts as well as the day-to-day challenges of cancer.
“When you’re done, you have all these wonderful people around you who can say they’ve been there, too,” he says. “We’re getting stronger, and we’re doing it together.”
Do you know an extraordinary person who’s giving his or her time to the cancer cause? Email Volunteer@CancerTodayMag.org. We may feature the person in a future issue.