We love when someone offers to write a guest blog and we were particularly pleased when Ms Susan J. Moug, Consultant Surgeon and Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at Royal Alexandra Hospital, Paisley shared their experiences of running a walking group for survivors of colorectal cancer. Sounds like they had great fun along the way!
Last year the colorectal team at Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) Paisley started a 6-week walking programme for colorectal cancer survivors. Armed with the knowledge that increasing physical activity is beneficial for cancer survivors and with the success of programmes like www.walkwithadoc.org we decided to put our best feet forward.
After a little planning and support from Paths for All, we approached 17 patients that had completed their cancer treatment and persuaded 10 to participate (we also recruited a wife on the way too). The group started each Monday morning in the Gleniffer Outreach Centre in the grounds of the RAH (thanks to Amy!) with the format of a short talk, a walk then a cup of tea back at the centre.
The talks focused on various aspects of healthy living and included live smoothie making with Colorectal Nurse Specialist Jenny Rodger (health and safety were not informed), benefits of joining a local walking group as a cancer survivor and mental health and de-stressing (Dorothy McCann, Mental Health Development Officer). The walks took in local Paisley sights including old schools and historical buildings (and the occasional graveyard) and were led by Senga MacLeod from Paths for All. We started at walks of 15 minutes and built up to 40 minutes as those in the group were of varying ages and abilities. To encourage the group we handed out pedometers and a sheet to record the number of walking steps taken.
Despite popular rumours, we didn’t deliberately choose one of the wettest months of the year to start this programme. It rained most Mondays and highlights included walking past the council draining a flooded bus stop. Despite this, 10/11 patients attended every week and the group bonded well. Feedback included ‘happy to be part of the group and enjoyed the walking’, ‘well explained and looked after’, and ‘great experience and met a group of lovely people’. A few participants thought the walks could have been longer (they were the fitter ones) and that they would have liked the programme to be over more weeks. All reported increased activity levels with our walkers clocking up an impressive combined total of 872 452 steps during the 6 weeks (134 miles).
We have learnt a lot designing this walking programme and have another one planned for this year. The fact that these patients had undergone cancer surgery brought them together and clearly contributed to them turning up each week. Not one complained about the weather, they just put their waterproofs on, laughed and walked their way through it.