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Center helps Gaberman on road to recovery

Aaron Gaberman of Weston, right, works with trainer Dan Root at the Connecticut Challenge Center for Survivorship in Fairfield.

Aaron Gaberman of Weston, right, works with trainer Dan Root at the Connecticut Challenge Center for Survivorship in Fairfield.

The road to recovery has been a two step-process for Weston’s Aaron Gaberman.

Several years ago he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Treatments were successful but he still needed to get his strength back in order to participate in the sports he loves.

Since last November Gaberman has been training at the Connecticut Challenge Center for Survivorship in Fairfield, a non-profit wellness facility for cancer survivors. Under the guidance of certified cancer survivor trainer Dan Root, Gaberman has been working on strengthening his body and fine tuning his balance.

Opening a month earlier, the center is the first survivorship program for cancer survivors that is not affiliated with a hospital. It offers evidence-based programs in exercise, nutrition, psychological support and other resources.

“They know how a cancer survivor’s body is like,” said Gaberman, who is now 17 and trains at the center twice a week. “They know how to construct a program that my body is fit for doing.”

Gaberman’s ordeal started when he was 10. An avid baseball player and golfer, he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor.

While he was undergoing treatment, Gaberman learned that New York Yankees announcer and former baseball player Bobby Murcer had also been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Gaberman wrote a letter of encouragement to Murcer, who later contacted him and invited him for a visit at the YES Network booth at Yankee Stadium.

“He and Bobby became friend’s during Bobby’s battle,” said Gaberman’s mother Teri. “They became best buddies for each other.”

Gaberman is also mentioned in Murcer’s autobiography, Yankee for Life. The book covers Murcer’s baseball career and also his personal struggles with illness.

Murcer survived the cancer but the treatment comprised his immune system. He died in July 2008 at the age of 62. Gaberman was one of a few people who spoke at his funeral in Oklahoma.

After two cycles of chemotherapy Gaberman’s tumor had been eradicated but about three years later a growth was discovered behind his eye. Although it was benign, he needed surgery to remove it.

While he was undergoing chemotherapy Gaberman still managed to play Amateur Athletic Union baseball. He also played golf, eventually joining the boys golf team at Weston High during his sophomore year.

But the treatments had taken their toll on him. When the Connecticut Challenge Center for Survivorship opened Gaberman saw this as an opportunity to help him get back in shape. Through the use of weight training, conditioning, treadmills and other equipment he is getting his energy back and becoming stronger and faster.

“After cancer your body is worn out,” said Gaberman. “Personal training helps me bring my body back to the way it was.”

Now a senior at Weston High, Gaberman plans to attend Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. next fall. There he plans to major in sports communication and minor in business. This spring he will play his final season on Weston’s boys golf team.

“I hope to do well,” he said, looking forward to the season. “I hope to play in a lot of matches.”

For more information about Connecticut Challenge, its survivorship center programs and a free trial membership visit www.ctchallenge.org and click on the Center for Survivorship tab. For information on the Challenge’s annual bike ride fundraiser on July 26-27 visit http://bike.ctchallenge.org.

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