5K Your Way, Move Against Cancer is a community-based initiative to encourage those living with cancer, their families and friends, and those working in cancer services to walk, jog, run, cheer or volunteer at a local 5K Your Way group at designated parkrun events on the last Saturday of every month.
The initiative was founded by oncology consultant and 12 times Ironman champion, Lucy Gossage, and international runner and MOVE Charity founder, Gemma Hillier-Moses, who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 24 in 2012.
The 5K Your Way, Move Against Cancer initiative is provided by MOVE Charity.
For those living with cancer, there is persuasive and accumulating evidence that exercise and physical activity during and after cancer has a multitude of benefits; improved physical and psychological well-being; reduced treatment side effects; decreased cancer-related tiredness; enhanced self esteem; even prolonged survival.
“The idea for 5K Your Way, Move Against Cancer came when I was working with some teenage and young adult patients around 18 months ago. Many of these patients receive long, tough courses of chemotherapy. During treatment they do little other than sit in their hospital room. After treatment we offer little to help them regain their fitness.
I wanted to set up something that would help change this, but knew that the best way to instigate change would be by including health care professionals in the change. What better way to do this by creating a community within the wonderful community that is parkrun. So, alongside Gemma Hillier-Moses we created 5K Your Way, Move Against Cancer.” – 5k Your Way Co-Founder and Oncology Consultant, Lucy Gossage.
Relaunching our groups post covid has been difficult in many ways but overall overwhelmingly positive. Lockdown and the after-effects of covid have been really hard on the cancer community. Read here all about 5k Your Way restarting in a brilliant blog by Lucy.
We currently have 5k Your Way groups at the following locations in Ireland:
Ballincollig parkrun, Cork 5k Your Way Group
Oranmore parkrun, Galway 5k Your Way Group
Marlay parkrun 5k Your Way Group
Porterstown parkrun 5k Your Way Group
Naas parkrun 5k Your Way Group
You can find out more about each of the groups here.
And in Northern Ireland:
Wallace parkrun 5k Your Way Group
Ormeau, Belfast parkrun 5k Your Way Group
You can find out more about each of the groups here.
Paul O’Brien brings cancer awareness to Porterstown parkrun, Dublin
In 2016, Paul O’Brien (54) from Dublin, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, which is a bone marrow cancer. Paul was referred for an MRI due to persistent, chronic back pain. He said the consultant took one look at the MRI scan and could see two damaged vertebra in his spine. A further PET scan confirmed that the cancer cells from the spinal tumour had spread to Paul’s shoulders. Paul says: “The tests results confirmed that I had stage two multiple myeloma. The medical team were happy they had caught it in time and were confident that with treatment I would be ok”.
Paul’s treatment began with radiotherapy and extensive chemotherapy. Speaking about the treatment, Pauls said, “I was on a cocktail of drugs, I even had an excel spreadsheet which set out all the medication I needed to take on a daily basis.”
Six months later in June 2017, Paul had a stem cell transplant. This was followed with a few weeks recovery in hospital. “The transplant itself was an infusion and took 45 minutes but the recovery from the transplant took months. I struggled with extreme fatigue and tiredness. It was only at the end of 2017 that the extreme fatigue lifted a little,” said Paul.
It wasn’t until early 2019 that Paul felt well enough to start back doing gentle runs.
“My sister had previously introduced me to parkrun in London before I got sick. I had been in the army and was used to being very active and fit. I had started getting into a rhythm of going to Porterstown parkrun in 2019. I enjoyed the chance to meet new people and the post-run coffee chats. Then COVID-19 put a stop to parkrun.
Lockdown was ok for me as my some of my children, who are young adults, were at home so we didn’t have the challenges of home-schooling or bored kids. I was able to work from home and we had a rota for attending the office one/two days a week as some of the work could only be done in the office. The internet, Netflix and running were a big help during COVID. I did miss meeting up with friends at parkrun and little things going into town on a Saturday night with my wife.”
When Porterstown parkrun re-opened, Paul came back as an Ambassador for 5k Your Way- Move against cancer.
“I was delighted when Porterstown parkrun re-opened after lockdown in September 2021. I am now an Ambassador for 5k Your Way – Move Against Cancer at Porterstown parkrun. We have a special 5k flag up and people come over for a chat. It’s a good opportunity for people to get some fresh air, have a walk and to talk to other people who have been through cancer. I can see first-hand that it’s working and people are coming back to parkrun.”
Clodagh Loughrey Dr with Belfast Trust
Physical activity is particularly beneficial to people who have had a cancer diagnosis. It reduces the risk of complications during cancer treatment and risk of recurrence. It improves mood and provides a healthy, free, sociable and ‘normal’ thing to do with friends and family on a Saturday morning.
I am a doctor in Belfast trust and have done some running for years with several of the fabulous Ormeau parkrun team, but have also had cancer. I have four enthusiastic fellow ambassadors – Paula and Kyle who are both oncologists in Belfast HSC Trust, and Orlaith and Clayre who also have had cancer.
Ormeau PR and PR Ireland could not be more supportive and welcoming, and have provided us with a perfect place to meet afterwards for tea, as well as a lovely volunteer Hilary who has the kettle boiled when we get round.
Our inaugural 5kYW on March 26 2022, was a beautiful morning, with a blue sky and birds singing. The feedback we are getting affirms that we are doing something right.
This could not be managed without Ormeau parkrun’s support and we are hugely grateful to them.
Looking forward to many more sessions to come, and continued growth of blue teeshirts dotting the path around Ormeau Park on the last Saturday morning in the month, whatever the weather.
“I hope you know how much this means to patients. It had it all this morning, the exercise, the support, the chat and laughs, the feeling that people, especially medics, care enough to do this for patients to help them. You could feel the love this morning. Thank you.”
“We had a great day today, we all absolutely loved it…we felt totally cared for. Every single one of us with advanced cancer got something out of today….a sense of achievement, being normal as part of a community group, feeling cared for by staff from the Trust, and giving it a real go.”
Georgie Freeman 5k your way coordinator
We are a support group with a difference, a run and walking club with a difference, a social opportunity with a difference, a coffee morning with a difference. And we are spreading rapidly across the UK and Ireland with 66 5K Your Way groups walking, jogging, running or cheering at parkrun events on 28 May 2022! Have a look here to find your nearest group.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to get in touch!
There are plenty of other ways you can get involved with MOVE Charity too. Signpost anyone interested towards us and find support through our website: blogs, Move Your Way sessions and workshops, Move Against Cancer YouTube channel, Move Against Cancer podcast, and other useful links.
Alison Walters struggled to return to everyday life after her cancer diagnosis and surgery. Then she came across 5k Your Way and parkrun, both of which she credits in helping her to find her feet again. I was diagnosed with a sarcoma, a rare form of cancer of the connective tissue, in 2018….
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