Heidi's Heroes | Cancer patients from across the region say charity’s new fitness classes are ‘priceless’
Heidi’s Heroes is a Cheltenham-based charity that provides practical support, care and courage to people of all ages across Gloucestershire when they need it most.
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Specialist Cancer Physiotherapist Clare Lait, centre, with Pauline Turfrey, left, and Sarah Bearcroft, right

17 Jun Cancer patients from across the region say charity’s new fitness classes are ‘priceless’

Cancer patients – many facing the disease for a second time – say new fitness classes funded by Cheltenham charity Heidi’s Heroes are proving ‘priceless.’

The new weekly circuit sessions run by Specialist Cancer Physiotherapist Clare Lait, are attracting cancer patients from as far as Evesham and Gloucester, with enquiries also coming in from Swindon and Oxford.

Pauline Turfrey, 55, from Abbeymead, Gloucester, has been attending the classes since they began in early May. She had a mastectomy after a breast cancer diagnosis and then learnt the cancer had spread to her thigh bone. Pauline says there are no other fitness classes for cancer patients like the ones now being funded by Heidi’s Heroes.

She said: “I’ve had radiotherapy on my thigh which affected my leg muscles and I now have monthly injections. I really wanted to strengthen my leg and the new classes are ideal. Clare tailors the circuits to my ability and I can already feel a difference.

“It feels safe here because Clare knows ours issues and can advise on what we should or shouldn’t do and also how far we can push ourselves. There’s nothing like this anywhere else, it really fulfils a need.”

 

Former netball player Sarah Bearcroft, 52, from Offenham, near Evesham had breast cancer in 2007 and in 2012 was diagnosed with secondary cancer in her lungs and around her heart. She said scar tissue had built up after her initial surgery and it was through meeting Clare at Maggie’s that she was encouraged to return to exercise.

“The help and encouragement I’ve received from Clare and Maggie’s has been brilliant. When you’re diagnosed with secondary cancer the support just isn’t there and you can feel quite isolated.

“Coming to the classes is not only good for me physically but I’ve also made friends and we give each other morale support. Sometimes I may not feel like going but afterwards I am so glad I made the effort. There’s nothing like this in my area, to me these classes have been priceless.”

The hour-long sessions are run at Cheltenham Ladies’ College Sports Centre in Malvern Road from 11.30 am – 12.30 pm on Monday and are offered free to cancer patients thanks to funding from Heidi’s Heroes, a registered charity set up in 2013 in memory of world championship swimmer Heidi Wood, who died following breast cancer in 2012.

The classes are open to anyone over 16 years, diagnosed with cancer. It caters for those who are awaiting surgery or treatment as well as for those undergoing treatment and for those who have finished treatment.

Clare who works at the Cotswold Sports and Injuries Clinic in Bath Road, said: “For many people having cancer takes over who they are. As well as the obvious physical benefits there are great emotional benefits too. Exercise can help people to regain their confidence, their energy levels and to relieve anxiety and depression. It gives you some control back over your body and your life.”

Improving fitness before surgery or treatments can also help prevent post-operative complications and improve your chances of survival, she said. It can also help those who wish to return to their hobbies, work or previous lifestyle.

The classes are open to patients with all types of cancer irrespective of their prognosis. Anyone taking part is invited to make a small donation to Heidi’s Heroes.

If you or someone you know would like to know more about the classes please email clare.lait@cancer-physio.com. For more details about Clare visit www.cancer-physio.com.