ST. CHARLES — Deafening music blared Friday from a classroom on the second floor of the Pottawatomie Community Center as about 40 women practiced for “Boomshakalaka,” “Faith” and “Out Out.”
They bounced, hammered their arms in circles and over their heads, knelt down to do leg crunches – and sent a clear insult to Cancer.
Dressed in black with hot pink shoes, their leader Vicky Waterman was all on the move, a mere 100 pounds of nerves and muscle going in every direction, urging them to move, move, move.
Called Sweat for the Cure, Waterman organized the course as a fundraiser for the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center in Geneva and Pancreatic Cancer Action.
“We all have a termination date, but we don’t know when it is,” Waterman said. “When you’re confronted with it, you’re like, ‘Oh my God. There are many things I want to do. Because when you have cancer and you don’t know what to do, purpose is everything. And we all have a purpose. Purpose is everything. When you have no purpose, you start dying inside.
Waterman’s goal is clear.
Years ago, Waterman had her breasts and ovaries removed because she carries the BRCA1 gene that causes breast and ovarian cancer.
Earlier this year she learned that the BRCA1 gene also causes pancreatic cancer – which she now has and is battling. A former Genevan, Waterman now lives in Naples, Florida. She came back to host this exercise class to raise money for LivingWell and help find a better diagnosis and cure for pancreatic cancer.
Mary Wallin of St. Charles said she was there to support Waterman as a friend and for the cause – to fight cancer.
“I’ve known Vicky since she opened her studio in Geneva,” Wallin said, referring to the fitness studio, V Fusion, which Waterman previously owned.
“At the time, shortly after arriving, I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Wallin said. “I kept going through it all and she was such an inspiration to me. And she was always so loving and caring to me.
Tracy Serra from Geneva said she came to class to support her friend.
“His workouts and his friendship went hand in hand,” Serra said. “When she starts her workouts – physically and spiritually – everything connects and you come out a much better person. And that brings you back to the next workout.
Jennifer Turcich, Waterman’s best friend and business partner in Naples — who also lives part-time in Geneva — also attended the fundraiser.
Turcich said she estimated the money Waterman was collecting in the thousands.
Sue Gillerlain, Program and Outreach Coordinator for LivingWell, said this example of community support is why the agency is able to continue supporting people with cancer and their families.
“The energy here is amazing,” Gillerlain said. “It’s so good to see so many people supporting the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center, supporting Vicky, coming together – this community is amazing.”
On Saturday, Waterman will participate in the PanCan PurpleStride fundraiser at Soldier Field, before returning to Naples and continuing his chemotherapy treatments.