Paisley hospital breast cancer gym success

Women being treated for breast cancer are benefitting from specialised classes focusing on rebuilding strength and avoiding isolation

Monday 10th June 2019

People being treated for breast cancer at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) are being helped to build their fitness and prevent loneliness with a specialised gym class.

Running in 12-week blocks and funded by MacMillan Cancer Support, the tailor-made classes are designed to rebuild strength and increase energy levels in patients going through, or who have just completed, treatment.

Fiona Irvine, breast clinical nurse specialist at the RAH, said: “When patients go through treatment or are just finished they are absolutely shattered.

“They have a lot of side effects and are fatigued, have joint or muscle pain and often have low self-esteem. This can lead to low confidence and they can isolate themselves as they don’t want to talk about breast cancer.

“Patients come to the programme and they’re moving so muscles aren’t aching as much and they’re socialising which helps to give them better confidence.”

The RAH class runs every Tuesday morning in the hospital’s gym with many saying the class has been extremely important during a very difficult time.

Anne Boag, a patient from Paisley, said: “I learned about this exercise class through my breast cancer nurse. I already do Tai Chi and being able to also do this class has been great for me over the last nine weeks.

“I’ve been through chemotherapy and radiotherapy which has made me very breathless. With the help of class teacher Frances, I’ve been able to go at my own pace and build up the exercises.

“I feel my health and wellbeing are improving and mixing with everyone here has been great. I would definitely recommend the class to other people going through breast cancer.

“The class has been really good for my cancer journey and it has given me a lot more confidence. It’s a very friendly group here and Frances is fantastic. If anyone is struggling to cope or are at the next stage of their journey I’d recommend they come along.”

There is a growing body of evidence showing women were less likely to be anxious or depressed during and after treatment if they exercise for small periods of time each week.

“The class is designed to help people’s confidence and focus on what they can do rather than not do at the moment,” says the class teacher, Frances Tait.

“The people taking part in the class get a knowledge of what exercise is safe for them to do and have a lot of fun taking part.

“The programme has been very successful and a high number of people who have taken part go on to participate in other physical activities. It has played an important role in helping people make friendships, reduce isolation and help foster a positive mood.”