Cancer patients get fighting fit with new exercise classes

Instructor Trevor Jones puts Celia Barron, left and Edna Morrison through their paces. Picture: Jon Savage
Instructor Trevor Jones puts Celia Barron, left and Edna Morrison through their paces. Picture: Jon Savage
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AT first glance it is an exercise class like any other. Groups of fit and healthy participants laugh together as they grab their kettlebells and dumbbells or stretch out for their exercises.

But behind their smiling faces is a serious message, as everyone in the group has been given a devastating cancer diagnosis.

Experts have found that staying active during and after treatment can be hugely beneficial, so these patients are strapping on their trainers for the launch of a new exercise programme across the Capital.

Macmillan Cancer Support has given a £240,000 funding boost to Move More project, which is being run in partnership with Edinburgh Leisure.

One of the first to sign up was Celia Barron, from Pilrig, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma 12 years ago after finding a lump in her groin. Doctors told her the disease could not be cured, but they could manage it through chemotherapy.

The 69-year-old finished her fifth round of gruelling chemotherapy and final round of radiotherapy in January, and she wanted to try to get her life back.

She said: “I think one of the troubles of when you go through cancer treatment is it takes over your life.

“The treatment is always difficult and you want to get back to normal life but it can really knock your confidence.

“You don’t have the same stamina and you worry you won’t be able to cope in the gym or swimming.”

Trying the class has given Celia the confidence to get back into her allotment with her husband Sam, 71.

She said: “I was worried it would be difficult but the class was really gentle. I really loved it.

“It’s also nice to be with other people who understand what you’ve been through.”

The free activities will not only help people cope with the side-effects of treatment. They also provide people with an opportunity to meet others in a similar situation and reduce the loneliness and isolation that the disease can create.

Janice Preston, head of Macmillan Services for Scotland, said: “Traditionally people have been told that rest was best, and while it is right to rest at certain times, it is also really beneficial to get moving too.

“Research shows that being active during and after treatment can not only help with the side-effects but also reduce loneliness and isolation many people feel. We realise many people may feel nervous about building up their activity levels, particularly if it’s for the first time after treatment or if they haven’t been very active for a while, which is why Macmillan is working with Edinburgh Leisure to provide this programme specifically for people affected by cancer.”

Move More will offer a range of activities including walking groups, gardening groups, gentle movement classes and group activity sessions at 10 different locations across the city,

Diana Borthwick, clinical nurse specialist at the Western General Hospital, said: “We know that an increase in activity levels can help to speed up the recovery process following treatment and by being part of ‘Move More’, we can support and encourage people to regain confidence to exercise.” To find out more call 0131 -58 2190.