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MARY RUSSELL’S STORY: A Navy kid from Long Beach, California, Mary Russell Muchmore is proud to call southern Illinois her forever home. She was a lifeguard growing up and taught swim lessons at a local country club, so it’s no surprise to catch her in the water a few times a week. She and her husband Charles live in Carbondale and were driving to JALC for exercise until their aquatics facility closed for repairs.

The Friday before Memorial Day, Mary Russell was enjoying time on Lake Kincaid with her family when she noticed something unusual about her left breast. Thinking she had been stung, she went to the dermatologist as soon as she could. The doctor sent her on to the Breast Center in Carbondale where she was diagnosed with the same cancer that killed her mother at the young age of 47.

The news struck her with terror, but Mary Russell wasn’t going to let it bring her spirits down. She and Charles were determined to surround themselves with younger, more active people. Mary Russell had heard about The HUB from her friends, but assumed it was only for Williamson County residents. A SilverSneakers participant, she found out she and her husband could come here for free. “I felt guilty at first, until I realized The HUB would be reimbursed,” she said.

The couple started their journey at The HUB in June by participating in the River Walk class, walking the track, hopping on exercise bikes upstairs and relaxing in the therapy spa. “It’s like we were little teenagers again,” Mary Russell giggled. After her treatments, Mary Russell would come to The HUB and could feel herself getting stronger and stronger. “This place heals your spirit, body and joy,” she said.

Mary Russell agreed to participate in genetic testing and has since completed her radiation. She wants what is best for her grandchildren and hopes others will be aware and not be scared. Just a few months shy of her 80th birthday, Mary Russell and Charles continue to drive from Carbondale to Marion to use our facility a few times a week. The two love to sit on the bikes by the window upstairs to “see Marion the way God sees it” and encourages others to do the same. “When you’ve got a play land like this at your fingertips, you’re doing yourself the biggest favor because I am feeling more and more fit!”

The HUB Team admires Mary Russell for overcoming these trials and tribulations so quickly and with such grace. We wish Mary Russell and Charles the very best!