Woman wearing yellow shirt with "LIVESTRONG at the YMCA" sits at a recumbent bike.

Helen working out at her local YMCA.


Meet Helen Kovach. Helen has many titles including wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend and two-time breast cancer survivor. 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and with the exception of skin cancer, female breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in the United States. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reports that it accounts for 15 percent of all new cases, with an estimated 287,850 newly diagnosed patients in 2022. 

Helen received her first diagnosis back in 2010 and was referred to the Tampa Y LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA program by her hairdresser, who too was a breast cancer survivor and a member of the LIVESTRONG® program.

Supportive and Strong Connections  

LIVESTRONG® at the YMCA is a free 12-week program that provides in-person support for those who are living with, through, or beyond cancer. Our certified cancer wellness coaches provide physical and social activities for the members before, during and after their cancer treatments.

The Northwest Hillsborough YMCA LIVESTRONG® group is committed to the relationships they’ve created. To further support each other, they created a LIVESTRONG® alumni group.

The alumni group consists of 10 to 12 members who participate in weekly group exercise classes, monthly lunches and daily check-ins.

Helen shares, “We are very close. At [the] drop of a hat, we would do anything for each other! I joined a Dragon Boat club with some of my fellow LIVESTRONG® alumni members and I can honestly say these women are my very best friends.”

In 2019, Helen received her second diagnosis. She underwent a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery, and was very thankful to have her LIVESTRONG® friends by her side every step of the way.

Thanks to the support and funding from donors, community members and the Tampa YMCA Turkey Gobble, we are able to provide continued support to members like Helen and LIVESTRONG® program alumni.

Join the Tampa Y in supporting cancer survivors by registering for the Tampa Turkey Gobble or by donating today!

Published Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022