Scottish Cancer Prevention Network | Putting Prevention First

Dear Mum… #lookaftermum

Health has been centre stage for the past year.  I feel perhaps like many others, I have done a full 360o in terms of my mindset and mental health. When the pandemic hit and Scotland announced its first lockdown we were all a bit shook as to the speed of the sweeping deadly virus Covid-19. The uncertainty and powerlessness of the situation led my mood to spiral and I began comfort eating for the FIRST time in my life. How did I not notice? Emotional eating wasn’t a typical habit of mine. The whole world seemed to have gone to pot. Nothing was normal. I couldn’t see my family. I couldn’t see my friends. Everyone seemed to become really busy. My little boy was growing up fast and I couldn’t share this with anyone. In hindsight I guess I used food as a source of comfort in a time I felt unable to cope. Single parenting a toddler, with no respite, during a pandemic has certainly been tough.

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Happy (socially distanced) Valentines 2021

Living well in the time of COVID-19 isn’t always easy. Recent stats suggest alcohol intake has increased and it doesn’t look like calorie intake has gone down either. It isn’t difficult to understand – we all need some comforts and warmth in these dark winter, homebound days. As the grey skies of February loom over us, many of us are looking forward to the next special date in the diary, February 14th, St. Valentine’s day. Amidst a global pandemic, it might look a little different this year.

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World Cancer Day 2021 – Time to think again


The global pandemic has been dominating the world of Scottish public health, primary care and acute medicine for the past year. We have watched the daily, weekly and monthly figures of cases, hospital admissions and deaths of the millions whose lives have sadly been affected or lost to Covid-19.

There are, on the other hand, many other worries and statistics that have always got less air time. Concerns about cancer diagnosis (especially delayed screening), treatments and recovery may have been severely impacted on many of thousands of people in Scotland during the pandemic, but the details do not regularly appear on our television screens. It is interesting to give thought to what might happen if we did receive daily reminders.

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Dry January

Dry January seems like a great opportunity to reflect on our relationship with drinking… but is it just another box to tick? Does the golden ticket to allow a night off make it all a superficial act for a month or can there be real insight? Here is one story from an SCPN friend that set us wondering about what makes us stop and think. Not worth the cheat day!

It is exactly one year ago I woke up in an Airbnb in Paris with an aching hangover and only one working hand. 

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Public health landscape and looking forward with Sheila Duffy

Our final thoughts on Look Forward in 2021 is from Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland (ASHScotland)

Clearly there is much work to be done in changing our public health landscape and working together is key to addressing what lies ahead.

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Professor Anna Campbell MBE is ever inspirational and optimistic. Here are her thoughts on moving forward into 2021.

Who would have thought on Hogmanay 2019 when we all said “Happy New Year” that we would have a year like 2020 and that the expression “I wouldn’t touch him/ her with a 6 foot barge pole” would become a global policy!  Although I missed out on planned trips to Mallorca, San Francisco, Copenhagen and Texas in 2020, this gave me more time and energy (with my lockdown puppy – a cocker spaniel called Beara) to explore the beauty surrounding my home in Perthshire I even ventured further afield on my road bike during lockdown while the roads were empty of cars and did some wild swimming in Loch Garton. Another unexpected highlight of 2020 was being able to quickly set up a clinical trial and service supported by Macmillan and funded by the Lottery to provide online exercise/ nutritional and emotional support for people affected by cancer during COVID19 pandemic.  This SafeFit trial is continuing to recruit participants (anyone with a diagnosis of cancer in the UK) in 2021 who may feel that they would benefit from 6 months of sessions to support them through 2021 – application and info at  And my plan for 2021?  I aim to put the swimming, cycling and running together and try a triathlon!

Nanette Mutrie MBE of PAHRC gives her thoughts on a better world ahead

Professor Nanette Mutrie MBE is Director of Physical Activity for Health Research Centre (PAHRC) at the University of Edinburgh. She has been a key supporter of the SCPN and reminds us of the many reasons why Physical activity can turn our lives around and impact on planet health.

Could COVID-19 have precipitated actions that might save the world? What a thought! As we experience the reality of social restrictions and economic downturn it is not easy to think that the world could benefit in some way.  Along with that thought must go first and foremost our heartfelt sorrow for the distress and loss of life that the virus has created.  But given the directions to think forward for this blog, this is what happened to my thinking...

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What we CAN do for our wellbeing during the pandemic

Alison Douglas Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland   

Beyond our professional roles we also need to see a way into 2021 that remind us of what we can do (however small) for our sense of wellbeing in this very big and challenging world.

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SCPN’s Annie and Bob look forward to 2021 – WARNING: Contains VERY cute puppy!

Professor Annie Anderson and Professor Bob Steele are the co-directors of the SCPN and Chair and Board member (respectively) of the Scottish Cancer Foundation. As they are married, they share many personal interests, but in addition they work together on many professional activities.

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