Skip to main content

COPE Stories

COPE Stories

Loretta Fisher lives by the mantra “Go Low, Go Slow.”

It’s a habit she picked up from JP, who leads the pain group she takes through Community Care Durham’s COPE program (Creating Opportunities for Personal Excellence). Whenever she encounters a challenge in life, she tackles it in her own way, in her own time with the support of her colleagues and friends. It’s lead to her good days outnumbering her bad days.

It wasn’t always this way. A fall down the stairs a few years ago left Loretta with chronic back pain. Decompression surgery helped for a time, but the pain never went away. She now relies on a wheelchair to help her get around. If the physical pain wasn’t enough, Loreeta also suffered from anxiety and depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and self-isolation.

“When we spoke the last time, I told you COPE saved my life. I did not want to function.It’s difficult, it’s got its many, many challenges but I embrace it,” Loretta said.

Loretta credits COPE with helping her turn her life around. She was terrified to leave her home, but last February she ventured outside for the first time in years. Now she goes out four or five times a week and on September 30, she took part in Kilometres for CCD at Purple Woods Conservation Area – something that would have been unheard of for her before.

“It (the pain) used to consume me. I would not exercise because I was afraid of the pain that was going to come, because I knew it was coming,” she said. “It had me spiraling mentally and emotionally because I couldn’t function.”

Loretta’s COPE groups have not only helped her mentally, but they’ve also helped her physically. Using the “Go Low, Go Slow” philosophy, Loretta started exercising her core muscles this year. Her first workout lasted five minutes. Today she’s up to an hour and 20 minutes every day, except Sunday. That is her day to rest.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do the walkathon (Kilometres for CCD) if I had not been working out because my core is strengthened,” she said.

In addition to her pain group, Loreeta also attends a meditation group which she said helps her be gentle on herself. She no longer allows negative thoughts control how she feels.

“Our minds are powerful,” she said. “The meditation group has been a saving grace for me and allowed me to connect with myself.”

While Loretta still deals with her chronic pain, COPE has given her the skills and support to carry on.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do this without JP’s gentle push. Go low – go slow,” she said.

A mantra to live by.