I added an extra page to our Five Star Fitness website this week highlighting a new service I can offer in a very specialised area, exercise for people during and after cancer treatment. The page titled, Cancer and Exercise will give you some information but I wanted to share with you a little more detail about why I became involved in this.
Just about everyone you speak to nowadays has been touched by cancer, whether directly or having a friend or relative diagnosed with some form of this dreaded disease. Personally, it came into my world when Steven Ross, my nephew, close friend and regular mountain biking companion was told that the pains he’d been experiencing were in fact cancer. For the next year I would watch this fit young man of 33 who used to race me up and down many biking trails in Scotland go through chemotherapy, countless hospital appointments and a major operation, gradually becoming weaker and finally passing away at the age of 34. Throughout this and after, I felt completely and utterly helpless and I know from speaking to relatives and friends of cancer patients that just about everyone feels the same way, all you can do is stand and watch.
This helpless feeling began to change in May this year. I read a post in a Facebook group for Personal Trainers from Melanie James Browne, founder of Cancerplus about training to be a Cancerplus Exercise Specialist. I phoned her (old fashioned communication method) for more detail and after a long, informative and very inspiring chat I was booked onto the course. I’d no idea that there was so much evidence about the benefits of exercise both during and after cancer treatment. Evidence such as exercise helping to overcome some of the side effects of treatment, giving you more energy, helping with weight gain, bone density, stress and anxiety and above all lowering the risk of cancer returning and reducing the chances of dying! Sadly, I wasn’t able to do anything to help my nephew but now that I’m a fully qualified Cancer Exercise Specialist, I no longer feel totally helpless and I’m ready to use my newly learned skills and make a difference to people’s lives. So Steven, this one’s for you!
Macmillan Cancer Support has found that only a fifth of patients who have been through treatment are told of the ‘wonder drug’ type benefits of exercise. If you’ve read this far, please help by spreading the word about exercise and make sure that people know there’s something they can do to improve their quality of life, help them recover and survive.
What exercise is available?
In Glasgow and many major cities in the UK there are cancer exercise classes available through a partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support and the local council, details will be on the individual council websites. Now that Cancerplus is establishing itself there’s also a growing network of Personal Trainers around the UK and beyond to offer one to one exercise, ideal for anyone that doesn’t want to join a class. The Cancerplus “family” is more than just a group of Personal Trainers, there’s pharmacists, oncology nurses, nutritionists, physiotherapists and dentists within the group to discuss and advise on individual cases. Find a Cancerplus Exercise Specialist that’s nearby by looking here www.cancerplus.org.
If you are a Personal Trainer reading this and want to get qualified, please contact Melanie James Browne the founder of Cancerplus. There’s only a small number of us so far and it would be great to expand the network.