Our Patients' Blog below represents the thoughts and views of members of our Patients Partnership Group. We are always interested to hear from patients who would like to shape our care pathways. If you are interested in taking part in the PPG please get in touch.  

What can I do to make a difference? (18th June),

by Marion Foreman, co-chair of Patient Partnership Group, nurse and cancer rehabilitation personal trainer

During the first lockdown many people stood outside their doors and clapped for the NHS. It was a way that was thought to show the people who work in the NHS that we all appreciate them (which we unreservedly do)

But it got me thinking? What could we actually do to support the NHS? Yes, I sent handcream and chocolate and cakes and biscuits (via my daughter, an ICU Consultant) but did it actually reduce the burden on beds, equipment and resources? No!

I want to suggest that the help needed is in our own behaviour. By ‘us’ I mean every patient or potential patient. What can we do to keep ourselves healthy and less likely to need NHS hospital care? And I am not going to talk here about vaccinations, COVID testing, masks or hand washing. I want to talk about general self care and keeping healthy and about getting screened and checking out symptoms.

If this pandemic has taught us anything it has shown the value of being healthy as a strategy to deal with prevention and recovery from illness. So I am going to talk about weight, yep, if we are over- weight we are at risk of becoming ill. The risk of cancer, diabetes and many other diseases is increased by being over-weight. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, eating too many simple carbs and not exercising put us all at risk of becoming ill and recovering more slowly.

Prof Thomas (who spoke at our recent patient event ‘Let’s talk about cancer’) is very clear on these subjects – and if you need further evidence then I recommend his book – ‘How to Live’.

As a cancer nurse and an exercise professional with additional qualifications in cancer rehabilitation I have helped many people to become healthy and remain so over many years. I want to help the NHS so I am going to share my hints and tips with you over the next few blogs. I want to answer your questions and bust some myths – so if anything springs to mind as you read this – pop a question on Facebook or email our enquiries desk and I will do my best to answer it (I can’t answer specifics about you and your treatment but I can help with general fitness tips).

We will kick off with food – so watch this space !

While you are waiting (26th January),

by Marion Foreman, co-chair of Patient Partnership Group, nurse and cancer rehabilitation personal trainer

"It’s tricky isn’t it? Waiting for an appointment? Being in lockdown?

Lots of us feel a bit ‘out of sorts’ right now so I checked out a few websites for advice. At Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation  I came across the pages on keeping fit when you are shielding. Take a look – there are some great ideas on what to do indoors or in your garden.

So try a home work-out video, move around every hour (walk up and down stairs one an hour is a great start), potter in the garden and even dance around (indoors or outside). The World Health Organisation suggests avoiding smoking and alcohol as well and of course eating a good diet and doing some exercise.

A good diet means eating protein (fish, eggs, meat, cheese milk), fresh veg and complex carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, brown rice and pasta, wholemeal bread for example) and fewer simple carbs such as cake, sweets, biscuits and crisps. For more info check on NHS Live Well Eat Well.  

There is good advice on there about drinking enough fluids too. Don’t forget to get a decent amount of sleep (I know its hard when you are worried but try to get to bed at a reasonable time and have some peace and quiet and a good rest as a minimum).

If you’re not shielding then you might like to make a conscious decision to get outside every day in your daily allowed time outside. We know that the fresh air is good for you (as is the Vitamin D if there is some sun) and so are the steps. You really need so little kit – a warm coat, gloves and hat and a pair of shoes you can walk in and you are off. Don’t even worry about how far you walk – maybe to begin with its only a quick nip round the block – you may well surprise your self and find you can soon go further.

Of course, if any of the above hurts (apart form a bit of muscle soreness!) then stop doing it. If you feel breathless or dizzy – then stop. You know your body – listen to it. But please give it a try – you have nothing to lose and everything to gain – the fitter you are when you get surgery or drug treatment the easier it will be to recover."