Preston's 5k Your Way: crucial cancer support with a twist out to get people exercising and active
Move Against Cancer’s 5k Your Way programme is a support group with a difference.
With an NHS report showing that just 23% of people living with cancer achieve the recommended 30 minutes of moderate activity five times per week, the group is dedicated to combining traditional notions of cancer support with an invaluable opportunity to get more active. Instead of treating it as an auxiliary option, it places exercise at the heart of cancer support.
Inviting people with cancer, as well as their families, friends, and those working in cancer services, to walk, run, cheer, or volunteer at their monthly ParkRun-affiliated events, 5k Your Way gives people the chance to reap the benefits of regular exercise. And those benefits aren’t just the well-known boons of staying active, but facets specific to those living with cancer, too.
“If physical activity was a pill, we’d all be prescribed it and it’s the same for people who are affected by cancer, whether they’re newly-diagnosed, are going through treatment, have finished treatment, or work as cancer healthcare professionals,” says Rachel Glascott, Project Manager with CancerHelp Preston. “It’s really important we all get the benefits of regular activity.
“I’m a cancer healthcare professional and my clinical background is in radiotherapy, so I’ve seen what people go through and I know how regular exercise can help,” she adds. “Physical activity is crucial, so the event is a way of promoting that, but in a supportive way; if people don’t want to run or do the full 5k to start off with, they don’t have to.”
With exercise having been clinically proven to reduce cancer-related fatigue, preserve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and improve psychological well-being amongst participants as well as dampening the impacts of cancer treatment side-effects, 5k You Way is all about making it easy for people to reap the benefits of regular exercise in a welcoming environment.
“We want to make sure people don’t feel pressurised, we even have a tail-walker so walkers don’t feel like they’re on their own at any point,” says Rachel. “It’s about offering support outside what the traditional cancer support groups do by promoting being more active alongside others who are going through similar things, which provides peer-support and encouragement, too.
“As a result, we’ve tried to create a support group where the focus is on being active,” she adds, with participants also welcome to socialise over a cuppa afterwards, too. “The event has had such an impact on people not only physically, but with things like confidence, reduced isolation, and feeling part of a group - during cancer treatment, that kind of network is invaluable.”
Relaunched in August 2021, 5k Your Way was founded by oncology consultant and 12-time Ironman champion Lucy Gossage and Gemma Hillier-Moses, the founder of the charity MOVE, who was herself diagnosed with cancer in 2012 at the age of just 24. The Preston group is run by Rachel and her fellow ambassadors Martin Bond, Terry Laing, and Dr Catherine Mitchell.
Now meeting on the final Saturday of each month in Avenham Park, Preston 5k Your Way was originally slated to start last April, but was curtailed by the outbreak of Covid until this September, when it was finally able to hold its debut event at which the Mayor of Preston, Councillor Javed Iqbal, was in attendance.
A resounding success, the event was attended by one anonymous participant who credited the 5k Your Way initiative with providing them with the impetus to get moving once again post-treatment, explaining that they felt hugely supported throughout.
“We’re blessed to have such a beautiful place to run in Avenham Park,” says Rachel. “We’re so excited to be able to provide this support in Preston.”
For more information and to register, head to https://5kyourway.org/register. 5k Your Way's next event will take place at 8:45am on 30 October in Avenham Park. To find a location near you visit: https://5kyourway.org/.