Breast Cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and 1 in 7 women will develop Breast Cancer in their lifetime and around 390 men are diagnosed each year.
This means during Breast Cancer Awareness Month around 5,000 people will be diagnosed. Survival rates are improving and the number of UK patients who have survived a Breast Cancer diagnosis has doubled in the past 40 years.
This month, we speak to Jane Bulloch, founder of Canrecover, who is an experienced cancer exercise therapist. She tells us about the benefits of remaining physically active before, during and after breast cancer treatment.
Jane tells us that there have been many research studies which have proven that remaining physically active can improve survival rates. Increasing physical activity is the single largest modifiable risk factor to positively affect breast cancer prognosis, and could reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by up to 40%. However, latest research by Macmillan Cancer Support shows that only 10% of breast cancer survivors meet the recommended guidelines advised by NHS and Department of Health (see below)
To stay healthy, adults aged 19 to 64 should try to be active daily and should do:
- at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week
- strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms
She says that with all different types of Breast Cancer treatments, it is important to remain physically active and exercising plays an invaluable role in helping to fight the negative consequences that chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, hormone therapies and medication can cause.
Jane also highlights that remaining physically active can help to…….
1. Produce anti-cancer hormones and reduce cortisol levels (a stress hormone) which cause severe inflammation and can help cancer to spread
2. Assist with reducing cancer related fatigue
3. Oxygenate the entire body and pre- sensitise cancer cells to treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy so that they are more effective
4. Boost your immune system and increase levels of antioxidants
5. Physically and psychologically cope with the anxiety of a cancer diagnosis and treatment and help to prevent becoming depressed.
6. Prevent muscles from wasting due to inactivity after surgery or whilst feeling unwell
7. Strengthen bones- especially important if taking hormone therapies e.g. tamoxifen. Bones need exercising too!
8. Improve self-esteem and quality of life that is often negatively affected by treatment and changes to body image
9. Decrease nausea and constipation by increasing bowel transit time.
Jane commented that:
The list of positive benefits is endless and may be different for each one of us. During cancer treatments, the body can become weaker, as therapies that target Cancer cells can also affect healthy cells. This being said, there are many ways to try to help yourself and Canrecover aims to help people keep moving!
Jane currently runs Pink Ribbon Classes at Synthesis Clinic in Kings Somborne or can do 1:1 sessions at clients homes. The Pink Ribbon programme is specifically for anyone who has had any type of Breast Cancer surgery. If you are finding day-to-day activities such as washing your hair, reaching up to a shelf or doing up your bra is difficult or painful, this is for you!
The programme can be started as early as 6 weeks after surgery but will also be beneficial if you have had your surgery a while ago and have not regained full movement. The exercises will show you how to safely and effectively stretch and strengthen your shoulders, chest and back to regain full range of movement and to reduce your risk of Lymphoedema, as well as improve your general strength and posture.
I believe we need to listen to our bodies and that this helps us to make decisions to look after ourselves. Physical activity is often referred to as the underrated wonder drug “ Movement is your medicine”- I am on a mission to spread the word and keep people moving and feeling better.
To find out how Canrecover please visit the website www.canrecover.co.uk or alternatively please call 07796 545546 for a free initial consultation and assessment as Jane will be happy to help you.