Young patients in a spin with new exercise programme

Young people coming through cancer treatment and who are now on the road to survivorship are getting a helping hand, all thanks to a unique fitness programme developed by the Belfast City Hospital Teenager and Young Adult Cancer Service.

The fitness programme, which kicked off on Thursday 10th September to coincide with Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, will see seven young patients aged between 18-25 who have all under gone cancer treatments and are now entering survivorship take part in a range of different fitness classes under the expert guidance of Will Moore (Cancer Coach).  The programme was the creative idea of the Cancer Centre Physiotherapy Department and Belfast City Hospital Teenager and Young Adult (TYA) Cancer Service, which is a dedicated service consisting of Friends of the Cancer Centre’s clinical nurse specialist for teenagers and young adults, Renée Reid, and two CLIC Sargent Social Workers, Laurena Kane and Simon Darby.   The team facilities group activities for young people and they strive to develop programmes and courses that engage young people and help them through their treatment or on their road to recovery. 

The six week fitness programme, which has been specially designed and tailored to meet the needs of the young people post treatment, will take place each week at the Olympia Leisure Centre in Belfast and participants will have the chance to work up a sweat at spin, circuits and Pilates classes.  The aim of the programme is to introduce fitness and exercise into the young people’s daily routine, improve confidence, provide peer support and to facilitate on-going exercise after the conclusion of the programme.  At the end of the six weeks, each participant will undergo another assessment to measure their level of improvement and development. 

The new Cancer Coach post was developed by the Cancer Centre Physiotherapy Department in conjunction with the Belfast Strategic Partnership, and aims to encourage and facilitate activity across many care pathways –both in the hospital and community setting.

Renée Reid, Friends of the Cancer Centre’s Clinical Nurse Specialist for Teenagers and Young Adults, said:

“The aim of our exercise programme is to reinforce in the minds of our young patients that they are now on the road to survivorship and by introducing some healthy habits into their daily routine, they can make a real difference to their lives post treatment.   Exercise can be a great medicine and it can affect not only on their physical fitness, but also their mental health, overall attitude, social interaction and their ability to get their life back to how it was before their diagnosis.”   

Laurena Kane, CLIC Sargent Social Worker at Belfast City Hospital, said:

“The exercise group work programme has been really well received by our young patients.  Each young person has their own personal goal they want to achieve by taking part, whether that be to build strength, increase energy levels, to tone, or to take steps toward living a healthier lifestyle.  These young people have made it through the tough road of cancer and treatment and are now taking positive steps towards staying healthy. We would hope to be in a position to offer this type of group to more young people in the future at the end of their treatment.”

The programme has been kindly supported by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Belfast Health Development Unit, Public Health Agency, Friends of the Cancer Centre and CLIC Sargent.

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