Friday, 14 February 2020

The sanctuary garden in Sandford Park; green spaces improve survival rates for cancer?

My radiotherapy has started and one of the things that is important to help the treatment is exercise. Everyday I am managing something but several times I have made my way to Sandford Park. It is a couple of minutes walk from the Oncology department and there is a new sanctuary garden there. My very rough and ready minute-long film below gives a very brief taster.



The wonderful sanctuary garden in Sanford Park was established by LINC (Leukaemia and Intensive Chemotherapy Fund), a local charity based at Cheltenham General Hospital (i). The garden is a mix of perennial planting which has been chosen specifically for environmental benefits as well as attracting pollinators such as bees. Clearly in February it is still largely asleep, but still has a wonderful sense of peace - and I will be revisiting later this Spring and Summer.


Randwick woods
Now I’m sure anyone reading this will know that research has found all sorts of links between green spaces and wellbeing (i) so I won’t repeat those here. I was however intrigued to discover research looking at how green spaces can have a direct impact on cancer or on intermediary determinants of cancer. It seems some reduction in the risk of cancer is about enabling healthy lifestyles and health behaviours (iii). 

There is also some interesting research showing that living near urban green spaces can reduce breast cancer risk but living near agricultural areas was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (iv). This suggests that how the green space is used is important. Similarly research has highlighted possible negative impacts like too much ultraviolet light. Lastly some research shows that green spaces may improve survival rates in ill or convalescent people, and be beneficial for cancer remission (v). 

Randwick woods
For me there is almost nothing more healing than green spaces; a walk in the woods can be beyond wonderful! Thank you LINC for creating such a lovely space that I am sure will grow more and more into a wonderful sanctuary space.

To finish I want to mention that LINC have a licence to maintain the garden and are seeking volunteers to help with the garden’s maintenance. Do make contact with them if you are interested: 0300 422 4422 ghn-tr.linc@nhs.net

Notes
(ii) Some examples:
Access to green and open spaces and the role of leisure services: 
https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/projects/improving-publics-health/access-green-and-open-spaces-and-role-leisure-services
UK researchers found moving to a green space had a sustained positive effect, unlike pay rises or promotions, which only provided a short-term boost:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25682368
Exposure to Greenness and Mortality in a Nationwide Prospective Cohort Study of Women
https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/ehp.1510363
(iii) Urban space and cancer: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/2/e018851

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