Speaking with a group of FitSteps for Life participants, you will hear many inspirational stories.

Some have started the free cancer rehabilitation program, wheelchair-bound or on walkers, and are now walking without any assistance.

Becky Presley, of Whitehouse, is a breast cancer survivor who began participating in the program in 2008 and follows a workout plan customized for her.

"I love it. You not only are able to encourage people, (but) you get so much encouragement," she said. "I feel guilty if I don't come to FitSteps."

Since Tyler-based oncologist Dr. Gary Kimmel, now retired, started the program in 2001, it has seen about 18,000 patients.

And while the program was designed specifically for those who have had cancer or are receiving treatment, those involved in it said one of the most inspiring participants is someone who has never had the disease.

For the last 15 years, Eleanor Cameron, of Tyler, has faithfully attended the exercise program, frequently showing up five days a week in the gym at First Christian Church and riding an elliptical for exactly 35 minutes.

She's friendly with those who attend the workout session and at age 95 she is a reminder to all participants that they should always try their best.

"If I can do it, you can," Mrs. Cameron said. "The doctors are convinced that exercise is the answer to all kinds of physical problems. I'm convinced that it's true, too."

Mrs. Cameron first met Kimmel when he was treating her son Robert Cameron. She and her husband, Dr. Harold Cameron, later started attending the program after Kimmel recommended it to them. The program is free to anyone who is referred to it and brings in a note from a physician.

Since that time, her son and husband have died but Mrs. Cameron continues to participate in the program and her presence has inspired others in the process.

"You come and she's just all perking and happy and doing it," Ms. Presley said. "So guess what? You just get up there and do it and think ‘Hey, now look, you get with it. If Eleanor can do this, then look I can do it.'"

While Mrs. Cameron's dedication to fitness and inspiring others in the program is very important to her, this is not the first time she has motivated others.

Since she moved to Tyler with her husband, about 1949, she has been a very active member of the community.

Mrs. Cameron served as the first president of the Junior League of Tyler, was a founding member of the Tyler Museum of Art, is a past president of the Smith County Medical Society Alliance and helped start the Cameron J. Jarvis Library in Troup with her cousin, Julietta Jarvis.

On Tuesday, The Cancer Foundation for Life, the nonprofit organization that oversees FitSteps for Life, will honor Mrs. Cameron with the first Inspiring Individual Award for the many ways she has served and is still serving the community.

"A lot of things she has touched in Tyler have grown into these wonderful institutions and that inspires us," said Amy Lively, assistant executive director of the Cancer Foundation for Life said. "So many survivors have told me, "We see Eleanor, we see her moving, and it just keeps us going."

Mrs. Cameron is modest about her accomplishment and her most recent honor and said the FitSteps for Life program has been very rewarding to her.

She added that it has always been a natural response for her to want to improve the lives of those she comes in contact with.

"There are so many needs and when you run into one then you automatically want to do something about it," she said





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