Boynton YMCA community helping instructor who has esophagus cancer

12:48 p.m Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 Local
Terri Baldwin has worked at the DeVos-Blum Family YMCA of Boynton Beach for about seven years. (Photo handout: Kathie Schwalen)

A group of women who like to keep fit by taking water aerobics classes at the local YMCA have joined together to support someone who never fails to do the same for them: Terri Baldwin, their fitness instructor.

Baldwin has cancer — a tumor in her esophagus.

She’s endured radiation and chemotherapy treatments. If those don’t shrink the tumor, she might need surgery.

Baldwin also is a lifeguard and gives swim lessons to all ages, including babies and people with Parkinson’s disease.

“Terri has been just a real support to us as far as what we’re doing in the pool and keeping us motivated,” said Kathie Schwalen, 65. “You can just see the look on her face. She just thoroughly enjoys what she’s doing.”

Baldwin, who has worked at the DeVos-Blum Family YMCA of Boynton Beach for about seven years, is the main provider for herself and her son. Her illness keeps her from work.

Cindy Dube, the aquatics director at the YMCA, said it’s been a challenge without her.

“Besides just the fact that she’s missed, I mean, Terri is in contact with everybody with as many programs as she teaches and works with,” Dube said. “There’s really no age group within this Y that doesn’t know her. It’s just hard not having her presence here.”

The women she teaches in water aerobics have offered their assistance, including raising money for medial bills with a GoFundMe account . Baldwin has reached $2,450 of her $30,000 goal, according to the website.

She wrote the description herself.

“I am a mom and bread-winner for me and my son. Please consider supporting me during this difficult time,” she wrote. “Due to the fact the insurance coverage is uncertain at this point the funds are needed to cover the medical treatments. Since my job requires physical activities I am unable to work at this time. Funds may be needed for living expenses. I need help to beat this horrible disease cancer.”

Baldwin has been out of work for a few months but came in for a holiday party in December.

“She looked great,” Dube said. “Everybody who walked by was like ‘Terri’s here!’”

The YMCA is also helping — Baldwin’s photos and information on how to help her are on display inside, Dube said. Also, others have asked Dube if they can hold fundraisers for Baldwin.

“When someone is so involved and intertwined with Y programs like Terri, it’s a hard hit,” Dube said. “Besides just missing her, that’s the biggest thing.”