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Sweat for the Cure raises pulses, spirits, money to fight cancer

Vicky Waterman: ‘When you have cancer and you’re struggling with what to do, purpose is everything’

Vicky Waterman leads Sweat for the Cure, a fundraiser for LivingWell Cancer Resource Center and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at the Pottawatomie Community Center in St. Charles on Friday, April 29. 2022. Waterman has the BRCA1 gene linked to breast and ovarian cancer mutations. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and learned that the same genetic mutations – also the BRCA2 - are also linked to pancreatic cancer.

ST. CHARLES – Thunderous thumping music blasted out from a second floor classroom at the Pottawatomie Community Center on Friday as some 40 women exercised to “Boomshakalaka,” “Faith” and “Out Out.”

They bounced, pounded their arms in circles and over their heads, knelt to do leg crunches – and sent a clear insult to cancer.

Clad in all black with hot pink shoes, their leader Vicky Waterman was all motion, barely 100 pounds of sinew and muscle going in all directions, pushing them to move, move, move.

Vicky Waterman leads Sweat for the Cure, a fundraiser for LivingWell Cancer Resource Center and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at the Pottawatomie Community Center in St. Charles on Friday, April 29. 2022. Waterman has the BRCA1 gene linked to breast and ovarian cancer mutations. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and learned that the same genetic mutations – also the BRCA2 - are also linked to pancreatic cancer.

Called Sweat for the Cure, Waterman hosted the class as a fundraiser for LivingWell Cancer Resource Center in Geneva and the Pancreatic Cancer Action.

“We all have a termination date, but we don’t know when that is,” Waterman said. “When you’re faced with it, you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh. There’s a lot of things I want to do.’ Because when you have cancer and you’re struggling with what to do, purpose is everything. And we all have a purpose. Purpose is everything. When you don’t have a purpose, you start dying inside.”

It’s clear what Waterman’s purpose is.

Vicky Waterman leads Sweat for the Cure, a fundraiser for LivingWell Cancer Resource Center and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at the Pottawatomie Community Center in St. Charles on Friday, April 29. 2022. Waterman has the BRCA1 gene linked to breast and ovarian cancer mutations. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and learned that the same genetic mutations – also the BRCA2 - are also linked to pancreatic cancer.

Years ago, Waterman had her breasts and ovaries removed because she has 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 fighting. A former Geneva resident, Waterman now lives in Naples, Florida. She returned to host this exercise class to raise the funds for LivingWell and to aid in finding a better diagnosis and a cure for pancreatic cancer.

Vicky Waterman leads Sweat for the Cure, a fundraiser for LivingWell Cancer Resource Center and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at the Pottawatomie Community Center in St. Charles on Friday, April 29. 2022. Waterman has the BRCA1 gene linked to breast and ovarian cancer mutations. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and learned that the same genetic mutations – also the BRCA2 - are also linked to 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 have known Vicky since she opened her studio in Geneva,” Wallin said, referring to the fitness studio, V Fusion, that Waterman used to own.

“At the time, shortly after I joined, I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Wallin said. “I continued to go there throughout everything and she was such an inspiration to me. And she was always just so loving and caring to me.”

Tracy Serra of Geneva said she came to the class to support her friend.

“Her workouts and her friendship went hand-in-hand,” Serra said. “When she starts her workouts — physically and spiritually — it all connects and you come out feeling like a much better person. And it brings you back to the next workout.”

Vicky Waterman leads Sweat for the Cure, a fundraiser for LivingWell Cancer Resource Center and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at the Pottawatomie Community Center in St. Charles on Friday, April 29. 2022. Waterman has the BRCA1 gene linked to breast and ovarian cancer mutations. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and learned that the same genetic mutations – also the BRCA2 - are also linked to pancreatic cancer.

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 raising 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 its support to people with cancer and their families.

“The energy here is incredible,” Gillerlain said. “It’s so good to see so many people supporting the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center, supporting Vicky, coming together — this community is unbelievable.”

Vicky Waterman (front, center) poses with participants of Sweat for the Cure, a fundraiser for LivingWell Cancer Resource Center and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network at the Pottawatomie Community Center in St. Charles on Friday, April 29. 2022. Waterman has the BRCA1 gene linked to breast and ovarian cancer mutations. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year and learned that the same genetic mutations – also the BRCA2 - are also linked to pancreatic cancer.

On Saturday, Waterman is going to participate in the PanCan PurpleStride fundraiser at Soldier Field, before returning to Naples and continuing her chemotherapy treatments.