We all know that exercise is good for us. But what if you’re a cancer patient?
Studies have shown that exercise is beneficial at all stages of your cancer journey. Macmillan Cancer Support, Cancer Research UK, Penny Brohn UK and Maggie’s Centres all emphasise the benefits. Search their websites for ‘exercise’ and you’ll find lots of information.
In 2018 several C’Siders (a Weymouth and Portland Cancer Support Group) wanted to regain and improve their fitness after having treatment for various types of cancer.
These C’Siders had taken the opportunity of joining the Stepping Out cancer rehab exercise scheme in Bridport, with fully-qualified instructors who could give professional advice about what type of exercise they should be doing, and how much.
This was an excellent start and they all felt the benefits, but it was clear that something closer to home was needed. There was also likely to be many others in the area who could benefit from a supervised exercise scheme specifically for cancer patients.
C’Siders worked with Osprey Leisure Centre in Portland and secured grant funding to train an instructor, hire the venue and provide equipment. The first session saw 14 participants signed up, confirming that there was a need locally, and new attendees continue to be referred.
C’Fit was born.
What do we get from C’Fit?
When you get a cancer diagnosis, you can feel that you’ve been put on a conveyor belt of appointments and treatments over which you have no control. The decision to join an exercise group is a choice made by the cancer patient rather than something specifically prescribed by the medical team, so it gives you the feeling of having some control over your well-being.
Cancer patients can join at any stage during their diagnosis, treatment or recovery, but they must first get approval from a member of their medical team to confirm that exercise is suitable for them. The weekly sessions consist of a varied set of exercises with each participant working to their own level of ability, closely monitored by the instructor!
The first 12 weeks of attendance are provided free to the individual. After the 12 weeks, you can continue to take part on an ongoing basis for a small fee, and many do. These fees, together with ongoing financial support from C’Siders, pay for the free sessions for new attendees.
Participants report an improvement in physical ability and confidence. One told us that after just a few weeks, he ‘doesn’t need his walking stick all the time now’. Another said they “wish the classes were more often”!
Some may decide to go on to other fitness classes or other types of exercise. As our instructor says, “find an exercise routine or sport you enjoy, as that will encourage you to continue”.
It’s not just about the exercise
There’s a certain camaraderie in the group and lasting friendships have been formed.
There’s the comfort of knowing that it is supervised and that the other participants are, or have been, in a similar situation with some type of cancer and treatments. People can share their stories and experiences if they want, which can be very reassuring if you are feeling down or suffering side-effects – you quickly realise it’s not just you. Participants report feeling “welcomed, supported and understood”.
So, maybe it’s worth looking in your area to see if there’s something suitable for you. Or get something set up if there isn’t yet!