Lifting the Lid on Cancer & Exercise

Getting moving is hard enough, let alone when living with cancer and its effects, but the research shows that exercise can improve everything from reducing recurrence in some cancers, improving flexibility and cardio-respiratory fitness, and reducing chronic fatigue and significantly improving quality of life. Hear expert advice from Joelle Rainford (Level 4 Cancer Rehab Instructor) and Dr. Gemma Pugh (Lecturer @QMUL in sports and exercise medicine), and two people who've benefited from exercising after cancer. 

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Our Amazing Line-Up

Joelle Rainford
Joelle Rainford is a qualified level 4 cancer rehab personal trainer and yoga teacher. Joelle has 12 years of experience working in fitness and rehabilitation. She specialises in cancer rehab to help spread knowledge and encouragement to get patients exercising safely throughout cancer treatment
Dr. Gemma Pugh

Dr Gemma Pugh is a lecturer in Sports & Exercise Medicine at Queen Mary, University of London. She has a particular interest in physical activity promotion and behaviour change and has carried out a number of research studies investigating health behaviour change among Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) cancer survivors. She has been working with Trekstock to evaluate the impact of the Meet and Move and RENEW programmes.

Ellen Bisci
Hey I'm Ellen, I'm 24 and I had Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia when I was 9 and 12 and the second time around I presented with a massive stroke. Although I am now 11 years cancer free I am still living with a lot of late effect due to the treatment that I had that effect me daily including chronic migraine/headaches, chronic fatigue, secondary intracranial hypertension, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome and left ventricular systolic dysfunction (mild heart failure). 
A couple of years ago Jemima suggested the RENEW programme and I can honestly say that it has changed my life. Prior to the programme I wasn't exercising at all but when I started the programme that changed. I was exercising 2-3 times a week and for the first time in my life, I really loved it! During the 12 weeks I gained muscle, lost weight, joined exercise classes (something that would have terrified me before) but I suddenly had the confidence to do so. I noticed that my fatigue had also reduced which was incredible.
When the programme ended I joined my local gym and continued to exercise regularly. I now have the confidence to exercise with friends and I will often suggest a walk. I think the biggest thing for me is that I am no longer afraid of exercise. At the moment I cannot exercise as much as before due to my heart but I am still ensuring that I am walking and doing what I can, even if I cannot go to the gym. My whole mindset towards exercise has completely changed and to Trekstock and the RENEW programme I will forever be thankful!
Rachel Alland

In July 2019 I was diagnosed with grade 3 breast cancer at the age of 34. 

Sport and fitness have been an integral part of my life from an early age and I knew that continuing to stay active during my treatment would help me both physically and mentally. From the moment I was diagnosed I vowed that I would  ‘continue to move’ everyday,  didn’t matter how much or how intense. 

My treatment started with two rounds of surgery followed by chemo, with radio to follow and a year of targeted treatment infusions. 

I’ve stuck to my goal and continued to stay active everyday during all of this. Whether it be physio, yoga or more intense workouts like CrossFit and bootcamps, the gym has always given me a place to go and remain active. And from a mental place it’s been paramount. It’s allowed me to keep a ‘normality’ that I so desperately crave. I still attend 6am classes (crazy I know), the same classes I attended before diagnosis. 

However it’s not always been easy. Some days I’ve been so close to tears. When I’m absolutely drained by fatigue and so physically weak thanks to the surgery and treatment, every now and again I’ll look at my friends and they remind me of how fit I used to be. But at that same time my fitness family are always there to encourage me and remind me how far I’ve come. Not all strength is shown by the number of kgs you lift (cringe but true haha). 

I hope to demonstrate to people that, whist it’s definitely not always easy, exercise can be a hugely powerful tool as part of treatment.