Saturday, 15 February 2020

Exciting times; more cancer exercise opportunities coming soon

Meeting in Gloucester this week
Last week, myself and Stephen Rowley, met again with Macmillan in Gloucester. Stephen has been working with them and others to get more Cancer Exercise across Gloucestershire and in recent months I’ve joined in to see if we can really raise the profile of exercise in Gloucestershire. 

Some might remember in my first blog on exercise I shared some of my frustrations that the impact of exercise was not mentioned to me when I was diagnosed - this is despite research results like a Swedish study showing 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 (i). 

39% is awesome  - if it was a tablet then health services would be throwing it at us. Yet many thousands £££s are spent on chemo drugs and other treatments with nothing like the same health outcomes - why so little time and energy given to exercise? I think ‘why' might be for another blog, but would love to hear from folks with their own views! One factor is clearly the £millions health overspend in Glos. 

Certainly things are changing as I write in one of my earlier blogs - there is an increasing awareness of the need for an holistic approach (ii).

Jo Lawrence cartoon
Well the good news locally is that exercise is being taken more seriously - it is taking folks like Stroud District Council, Macmillan and others to look at how we can invest in communities so that those of us living with cancer know what can be done with exercise. In previous blogs I mentioned the website Stephen has established with details of the groups across the County - see here - they have focused on rehab after treatment (iii). 

Well now in the next few weeks we are hoping to have nine new exercise folks trained in cancer exercise - and hoping to expand the scheme with more types of cancers and prehabilitation. We will need to look at how we can establish new groups - it is a bit chicken and egg. Do we set up classes, then don’t have enough folk so it costs more or do we try and find the folk and have them wait a few weeks before we can launch? The groups can take a few months to break even so it requires funders to invest in the future - once established they often pay for themselves with the £3.00 or so session fee. This is not a drain on expenses this is about those statistics that show exercise leads to better outcomes - and quite possibly less impact down the line on health services?

All this, also fits with the national strategy for more personalised “Prehabilitation” which came out last year in new guidance published by the Royal College of Anaesthetists, Macmillan Cancer Support, and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Cancer and Nutrition Collaboration. If you are not familiar with the term prefab, it is about preparing people for cancer treatment by optimising their physical and mental health through needs based prescribing of exercise, nutrition, and psychological interventions. In effect this is about 'priming' your own recovery before your treatment even begins. The report (iv) is well worth a read as it sets out the benefits and challenges.

So we are moving forward and 30,000 leaflets are due back from printers in next couple of weeks or so; hopefully we will then be putting in place a comprehensive marketing strategy. If anyone out there wants to help do please get in touch. Meanwhile I'm keeping up with daily exercise incl 10 mins of rebounding!

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