The Y Without Walls

To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact Melanie Cavender at 615-895-5995 or

Continuing to Serve the Murfreesboro Community

By Christy Womack

Since her own battle with breast cancer, Melanie Cavender has devoted her life to helping women recover from breast cancer. Melanie was more knowledgeable than most about medical issues. Still she was frustrated after her breast cancer surgery that there weren’t more resources to help her determine the best ways to heal physically, mentally and emotionally. If she didn’t feel comfortable finding her own way, how many more women out there were also struggling?

When passion and opportunity collide, good things happen, and that’s what happened when Melanie joined the YMCA to lead their new After Breast Cancer program.

The YMCA of Middle Tennessee’s After Breast Cancer Program was designed by survivors, for survivors, for the purpose of providing education and healing for mind, body and spirit after a breast cancer diagnosis. It is a free 16-week program, where survivors can find a safety net of other survivors to help them through treatment and also to bridge that gap of “treatment’s over . . . now what?”

The ABC program grew quickly in Rutherford County and has developed to include physical therapy and personal training with a fitness instructor with over 25 years of experience to help regain range of motion; individual consultation with a dietician who helps plan nutritional needs to maximize healing and prevent recurrence; a wig bank to provide a free wig to women in chemotherapy through generous donations; and even mental and emotional support. They offer an 8-week curriculum based discussion led by trained facilitators, designed to help define and discover each participant’s unique “new normal.” There are also monthly educational meetings with interesting and informative speakers to further their path to wellness. It’s truly a holistic approach to healing.

When the YMCA closed their Rutherford County office, Melanie was initially concerned about how she would continue to meet the needs of breast cancer survivors in Rutherford County. But as the resilient survivor that she is, she found new options. Working through partnerships with Adams Place and St. Thomas Rutherford, she always finds facilities to be able to continue her work. She’s a little harder to find, but she’s only one phone call away or you can always reach her at Her biggest challenge now is making sure that people know that the program is still alive and well.

“I’m the Y without walls,” she says. “I want people to know that my team is continuing to serve the survivors in Rutherford county. The program is open to anyone who’s had a diagnosis of breast cancer, regardless of when that diagnosis was made. Prior Y membership is not required. The program is free thanks to the generosity of private donors, corporate and community sponsors, grants and proceeds from several fundraising events.”

The key fundraiser for the ABC program is the Heroes In Heels Fashion Show, held October 13th at 6pm at New Vision Baptist Church. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door, children 12 and under are free.