A LOCAL secondary breast cancer campaigner hopes to get fellow patients in Tameside walking towards the best life possible with a new group.
Jo Taylor secured grant funding to help establish the scheme, which is designed to help people in a similar situation feel the benefits of Nordic Walking (NW).
Describing herself as ‘a busy mum of two active teenagers’ was diagnosed with incurable secondary (metastatic) breast cancer a year after abcdiagnosis was founded and its website was launched in 2013. She also launched METUPUK in 2016.
Now she hopes her group can help bring benefits she has felt to others.
Jo, who lives in Diggle, said: “I have been Nordic Walking (NW) for a number of years and had thought about setting up a group for breast cancer patients to help them gain the benefits too.
“I started NW daily under lockdown – I still go out every day and take my poles on holiday – and in a moment of madness, I applied for a grant from Greater Manchester Charity Voluntary Organization (GMCVO) to specifically support breast cancer patients.
“I then decided to expand to develop groups around Greater Manchester and East Cheshire. Shockingly I won the grant!”
Jo’s idea now sees 13 instructors – all training by British Nordic Walking and qualified in first aid – covering the Greater Manchester area, with each trying to run a weekly session, with daytime and evening slots to accommodate the needs and lifestyles of the different participants.
They have all been provided with sufficient equipment to run a small group, meaning people will not be required to provide their own but can simply turn up and join in.
And there is a medical reason for taking up Nordic Walking as Jo explained: “As a group, we are strong advocates for the physical activity experienced with NW as we know it has great benefits for breast cancer patients.
“This is because following surgery for breast cancer, if lymph nodes are removed the arms can become swollen and difficult to move due a condition known as lymphoedema.
“During NW, the lymph is moved around the body more easily, so it helps support movement and lymphatic drainage.
“And if that’s not enough, the exercise is a full body work out so burns more calories than standard walking.
“Additionally, because the group will be made up of people who have experienced the same difficulties, all having had breast cancer, there will no doubt be great peer support.
“We will all be there to help each other after a primary diagnosis and for those living with metastatic/secondary breast cancer.
“So, we hope it will become more than just a walking group but also a movement that supports patients after a breast cancer diagnosis.
“We aim to reach ALL Greater Manchester hospitals, breast cancer clinics, GPs, Maggies, Macmillan, cancer charities, social prescribing groups etc to signpost patients to this new initiative.
“And just in case you’re a little shy to come along alone, we welcome partners or carers although we will give pole use priority to breast cancer patients, charging a small fee to those without cancer.
“This will keep us financially secure and help with the sustainability of our groups.
“We look forward to seeing the group grow, develop and become a sustainable exercise for those who have had breast cancer.”
Secondary Breast cancer kills 31 women a day in the UK and is the biggest killer of women from the age of 35 – 64.
Despite this, it is not known if survival rates have improved because patients are only registered when dead.
Data collection forms a cornerstone to Jo’s campaign as many patients continue to search for more clinical trials and recognition of this incurable side of the disease.
Frequent personal setbacks and multiple operations have only added to Jo’s commitment to help other patients and her demand for change and support for people with this incurable disease.
The launch of a campaigning and support group METUPUK in 2016 received charitable status only last year. Now, her platforms have collectively 35,000 followers across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Twitter @abcdiagnosis @MetupUKorg
Facebook abcd-After Breast Cancer Diagnosis & METUP UK
Instagram @abcdiagnosis & @METUPUK