People living with cancer across West Cheshire are being encouraged to ‘step out’ on a new fitness programme, which promotes the health benefits of being active.
Macmillan Cancer Support and Brio Leisure are working together on Walking for Health, an activity programme aimed at those affected by cancer.
Physical activity can be an important part of a recovery after a cancer treatment and can help reduce tiredness and some side-effects, reduce anxiety and depression, improve mood, look after your heart and reduce the risk of other health issues.
Being active at recommended levels, and keeping to a healthy weight, may also reduce the risk of certain cancers coming back.
Volunteer manager Georgina Clarke: “Walking is accessible, almost everyone can do it anywhere. Our programme of walks gives those with or recovering from cancer, as well as their families or people who have been bereaved, an opportunity to get outdoors, meet other people and do some gentle exercise.”
In partnership with community interest company Brio Leisure, Macmillan Cancer Support has set up a regular programme of health walks across the county including Chester, Ellesmere Port, Neston and Frodsham.
The volunteering programme is looking to support people affected by cancer in a range of ways through social health walks, social groups, emotional support and also practical support in the home, such as shopping and gardening.
“We know that cancer and its treatments can cause a range of side effects including fatigue, stress and anxiety, bone thinning and heart problems.
“Regular physical activity, including walking, is a fantastic way to manage and even prevent these, and also has a potential role in reducing the risk of cancer recurrence and in increasing survival,” added Ms Clarke.
Cancer survivor Joanna Patron Bell from Winsford knows the importance of being able to discuss your condition with others in the same situation.
A 33-year-old mum of two young daughters, Joanna was diagnosed with cancer aged 15.
Doctors found tumours in her hand and then her lung and she spent 10 months in a specialist teenage cancer ward undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Married to methodist minister James Patron Bell, whose diocese has care of churches across mid-Cheshire, Joanna decided to become a Brio/Macmillan volunteer, helping those affected by cancer meet new friends and become more active, because she believes it’s a good way of coping with illness.
She said: “You have to take what good you can out of the situation. You probably have the rest of your life to live and there is life after cancer.
“Yes, there are hard times, times when you hate every bit of advice you are given but it’s important to try and find the better side of things.”
Kevin Walker, from Hoole, stepped up when he heard the Brio/Macmillan partnership were recruiting volunteers for the walks.
“Like everyone, I know someone who has been affected by cancer. I’ve always been an admirer of the work the Macmillan charity does so thought ‘why not help?’ “The walks, which are at Blacon, are every Monday and Thursday morning and are a great idea for people to meet socially and take a load off their minds,” he said.
Walks are already taking place in Grosvenor Park, Chester; Whitby Park in Ellesmere Port, and Castle Park, Frodsham.
To find out more about the walks and also the other support available for those affected by cancer or to find out more about volunteering, visit the Brio Leisure website; www.brioleisure.org/macmillan or call us on 01244 886887.
Ms Clarke added: “Walks are open to anyone wanting to improve their fitness through a 30-minute walk. We leave lots of time for tea and chat after so people feel that they can support each other in a friendly social network.
“We have fantastically friendly and inclusive, well trained volunteers leading the walks who are passionate about helping others. Our strong partnerships with Age UK, The Conservation Volunteers, Nature4Health, Vintage Blacon, 1stenable, Mersey Forest, Cheshire West and Chester Parks and Countryside team and the libraries have all really helped us to make these walks a success and they are becoming increasingly popular.”