Friday, 31 May 2019

Short film update on cancer exercise in Gloucestershire

Hi folks this is another look at exercise - see my original post here where I talk about the Next Steps programme and how this led to a realisation that I wasn’t doing enough exercise. The 6 minute vlog below was in response to an emailing conversation with Mhairi Morris at Essential Cancer Education - she was interested in hearing about plans to promote more exercise for people living with cancer in Gloucestershire. It is a rather rough vlog but gives a taste!
So since the six weeks of the Next Steps I have upped my game a bit. I also take more seriously the importance of rest days plus the absolutely key warm up exercise before exercising properly and the cool down after. I can’t emphasis those enough! I have also now joined a weekly Cancer Exercise class at Stratford Park Leisure Centre in Stroud. This is similar to the one Sarah talks about in the vlog.
The Next Steps was such great advice to get started - however the scheme was only a pilot. I was thus horrified to learn at the beginning of the year that further funding hadn’t been approved despite the scheme’s two years nearly coming to an end and its clear benefits to many. Along with another guy living with cancer, we wrote to the NHS to lend our support (i). It now looks like the scheme will have some more life and the good news is that there seems to be huge support to develop exercise more in Gloucestershire. As I say in the film it really is a no-brainer; if exercise was a pill the NHS would be dishing it out! 

Facebook page
It is also great to see support coming from many quarters - the Stroud class was part funded by the District Council. I understand now, that it pretty well pays for itself, as there are usually over twenty of us going each week. Steve Rowley, who I interviewed in the film, has been working with various folks to establish the excellent website to help promote cancer exercise across Gloucestershire. It has now gone live with a Facebook page and we’re hoping that this will promote exercise not just to people with cancer but also more of the medical profession. 

See more about Cancer Exercise in Glos:

Credit card size folded publicity cards
I have also joined Steve to meet with Stroud District Council to see how we can build on the class in Stroud and have more of them across Gloucestershire. The classes do need finances to get established but once running should be able to pay for themselves; what a great investment in health when you look at the stats around exercise and cancer - and indeed many other illnesses. There is sadly a way to go regarding funding for further groups and raising awareness - but we are optimistic as there is a lot of interest! Steve is already looking to get more funding to print more publicity cards which seem to be working - two new people at one of the local classes last week.

Mhairi's blog

Mhairi in her blog on cancer writes about the positive impact exercise can have on the cancer, the side effects of cancer and treatment and on improving the efficiency of the treatments. It is well worth a read as it has some great examples of the research supporting exercise (ii).

Of course anyone starting exercise should seek advice from someone who knows. Everybody is different and we should also remember that a sick body doesn’t need exercise but a rest! We also know that too much exercise can be bad. While many treatments for prostate cancer can have a negative impact on our body. Hormones, for example, can lead to significant loss of muscle mass as I experienced - and lead to osteoporosis.  Both the impact of hormones and osteoporosis can be improved through exercise and strength training. Other treatments, such as surgery, can cause incontinence - and we all no doubt know that pelvic floor exercises before and after prostate cancer treatment strengthen the pelvic-floor muscles, which can improve incontinence. Indeed we could all benefit from such exercises even if we don’t have cancer. 

Gordon talking at Maggies
Gordon, the Cancer Exercise specialist who runs the Stroud class recently joined a Prostate Cancer Support Group meeting and got many of us practicing the pelvic floor exercises (iii). Some 18 months ago I’d had a visit to a physio in Stroud when I was first diagnosed, but it is great to be reminded to keep them up.

Anyhow I will post this now as it’s soon time to go to my exercise class! I'll leave you with this BBC TED Radio Hour looking at cancer; at about 31mins is a good bit about lifestyle:


(i) Letter to NHS:
We wanted to write to let you know how important the Next Steps exercise programme has been to our cancer journeys. Both of us have prostate cancer and see this programme as being a key element of our treatment. We understand it is a pilot, but feel it is important that this work continues for others as the cost benefit ratio must be very high given the already known outcomes in terms of less re - occurrences of cancer and better outcomes on diabetes and cardiovascular indices.

We have engaged with the exercise component of this project, not only because hormone treatment we received considerably weakened our bodies but as you will no doubt be aware, there is compelling evidence that exercise provides many cancer preventative benefits. For example in 2014 a study of 4,623 Swedish men with localised prostate cancer found that those who walked or cycled for at least 20 minutes each day had a 39% lower risk of dying from prostate cancer and a 30% lower risk of dying from any other cause compared to the less active men. If a drug was able to lower risk like that I am sure the NHS would be ensuring it was available to all!

I (Philip) think one of the many things that surprised me, following my diagnosis, was that doctors did not mention exercise. However the nurses did have a tick box exercise regarding any ‘concerns’ that included exercise, plus I was given a thick pack of leaflets, one of which mentioned exercise. But I thought I was fit so didn’t think there was a ‘concern’. A friend mentioned that Next Steps was an excellent group so I rather reluctantly joined it. I (S) had already joined and it was there that we both started to understand what fitness really meant, and to develop bespoke programmes that we can fully engage with and maintain after the training period. As you know in Stroud (and other centres) there is a follow-up post cancer weekly training, sponsored by Stroud District Council, and this has been an excellent follow-up after the Next Steps training.

We have both been very impressed by the professionalism, support and knowledge of the Next Steps tutors; we would welcome that you pass on our thanks to them. We would also welcome hearing that this project will be able to continue and grow; of course you may have already made a decision on this but if not please take our views into account.
(ii) See more re Mhairi’s excellent blog re exercise at:
(iii) See more re Pelvic Floor:  

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