Q & A on Cancer Rehabilitation Level 4 Specialist Training

In this post we hear first hand about Cancer Rehabilitation Level 4 Specialist Training from Clare Wheatly who gained her qualificaion this year.

  1. What made you decide to further your professional skills and take the course?

After my own brush with breast cancer, whilst trying to get fit again, I had a eureka moment. Exercise and cancer go hand in hand. I never knew how much until after my treatment. The benefits of physical activity were a revelation to me, so I wanted to pass on what I’d learnt to other cancer patients. I bit the bullet and ventured into the world of fitness, never believing I could actually qualify as an instructor. (I have a number of co-morbidities, some of which are related to my cancer treatment). When I decided to change career, it was my aim to become a Level 4 Cancer Rehab Exercise Instructor, so that I could work specifically with cancer clients – to let them enjoy their exercise, have a laugh, feel comfortable with someone who has been there and got the T-shirt and forget that they have cancer, even if it’s for 30mins. I never had that in my treatment pathway and really want to ensure that others do.

  1. What has your previous experience of Cancer and physical activity been?

Up until my cancer diagnosis, the only exercise I did was working in my garden and on the allotment. I had no idea that being physically active pre-cancer would have such a huge impact on my recovery times after surgery and other treatment. I wish I had known this beforehand.

  1. How would you describe the course content?

On the practical side, the course could be a challenge for those that aren’t used to teaching classes in a gym. Not something that I do as I work one-to-one on resistance machines in my part time gym job. Saying that, the tutors are excellent. Without compromising the quality and high regard this course holds, they have bent over backwards to enable me to take part in the course. I have loved every minute of it (except the exams 😀 ). It was well worth travelling to Scotland for four days. I loved the theory part of the course as I learnt so much more about other cancers and what to look out for. The content was easy to follow, well taught and interactive.

  1. Was the course predominantly practical or rote learning?

The Can Rehab course I took had equal parts of practical and theory. A good balance of both. I loved every minute of it. I hope that I also was able to impart my personal experience to enable others on the course to understand more about the impact of cancer – lymphoedema for example. Trainers don’t actually know how heavy the arm (in my case) can weigh, but they felt it practically and ‘got it’.

  1. How do you plan to use what you have learnt/your new qualification?

Oh my! I so want to show other cancer patients/clients that a cancer diagnosis does not mean you give up. I have osteoporosis and lymphoedema after my breast cancer treatment, and yet I have found a part time gym job and now have a very fulfilling career that I never expected to have. If I can help others to find a way of keeping fit and active despite their cancer surgeries/treatments etc then I will be a happy woman.

  1. Would you recommend the course to others?

Definitely yes. It costs a lot but worth every penny if you find the right course for you. I have no regrets about taking this course.

  1. Any last words?

Yes. Just because you have or have had cancer and you are still living with ongoing health issues, does not mean that you have to sit back and give up. These days there is a greater chance for survival. Adding some form of physical activity in your life can make a big difference to your mental health as well as your physical health. I’m not saying it is easy, because from personal experience it’s not. But we have fought cancer. If we can do that then we can do anything, and blow what anyone else thinks or expects.

Thank you Clare! The next available training course dates are:

Can Rehab Level 4 course dates

June 18-19 – Springfield Leisure Centre, Corsham

June 22-25 – Inverness

September 19-20 and October 17-18 Folkestone

For more information click here

The Wright Foundation course dates

June 29 – 3 July Exeter

July 13-17 Nottingham and Selby

August 10- 14 London

For more information click here


Digital support for projects

Did you know there are a number of free learning resources, online courses and professional development tools available for project leads to access? Macmillan Cancer Support Learn Zone provides a variety of resources available for Macmillan Professionals, members of the public and volunteers. We recommend the following modules for project leads and delivery staff to complete:

  • Introduction to cancer – increase your basic understanding of cancer and how it can affect people’s lives.
  • Survivorship – learn about survivorship and how to sign-post cancer patients to sources of help and support.
  • Evaluation – increase your knowledge of evaluation and develop the skills and confidence to evaluate your work

You can access these and more modules here. The Physical Activity team also has an online learning subscription with BMJ learning. Project delivery staff can discover more than 1,000 evidence-based, peer-reviewed learning modules, stay up to date with the latest practice-changing developments, use pre- and post-module assessments to gauge your learning, Choose from audio, video, and interactive case-based formats and record your learning in BMJ Portfolio. We recommend project delivery staff complete ‘The health benefits of physical activity: cancer module’ you can access the module here additional modules we recommend include the ‘Importance of Physical Activity’ module here and ‘How does Physical Activity produce health benefits module here

Furthering your learning is not only beneficial for you as personal development but also the people affected by cancer you assist everyday!

For support in accessing any of the above modules please contact physicalactivity@macmillan.org.uk 

Sheffield Active Everyday Launch


‘Active Everyday , making it easier for people affected by cancer in Sheffield to move more’

A stakeholder event, bringing together health and social professionals, leisure providers, community organisations and cancer survivors from across the city, took place on Thursday 14 March to celebrate the project and unite – committing to support Sheffield people to move more and be physically active. Over 100 representatives from key partners Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield Move More were present at the event.

Active Everyday is an exciting physical activity project helping to support all people affect be cancer to be physically active.

More people are affected cancer than ever before with many experiencing long lasting effects of their disease and treatment, including fatigue, weight changes and depression.

Leading a physically active lifestyle has many benefits both physically and emotionally yet many people are unsure how to get started. “This is where Macmillan Active Every Day comes in” says Project Lead Lindsey Reece, Sheffield Hallam University, Active Everyday offers personalised advice from physical activity and cancer specialists , as well as training for health and social care professionals, so together people affected by cancer, can be empowered to become active and importantly stay active.”


Active Everyday is jointly funded by Macmillan and Sport England to promote the benefits of physical activity for cancer survivors. It is part of the region-wide Cancer Survivorship Programme across South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw and North Derbyshire, which is working to ensure that people living with and beyond cancer are leading as healthy and active lives as possible.

Thursday’s event heared from people living with and beyond cancer. They passionately explained how Active Everyday’s work has encouraged and supported them to stay physically active and lead a healthier lifestyle.

Macmillan Cancer Support Programme Manager Hayley Williams said: “Active Everyday in an inspiring project that does some amazing work to support people living with and beyond cancer.

“At every stage it promotes a positive message for cancer patients. It is about keeping fit, making new friends and having a support network in place.

“Active Everyday is what the cancer survivorship programme is all about. It supports, empowers and encourages people living with and beyond cancer across the Sheffield and South Yorkshire area.”

Active Everyday is open to anyone affected by cancer who would like support to become more physically active. It is part of the Macmillan Cancer Care Survivorship Programme www.macmillan.org.uk/survivorship


Move More Aberdeen

Move More Aberdeen has been offering free 12-week physical activity groups to people affected by cancer since January 2015. An integral part of this physical activity programme is the use of health behaviour change techniques to promote long-term adoption of physical activity. This is essential for the sustainability of the programme and will ensure the impact of the programme extends well beyond the 12-week activity groups that people attend.

Health behaviour change is embedded into the physical activity pathway employed by NHS Scotland and the Move More Aberdeen programme dove-tails neatly into this. We are able to undertake an extended conversation (brief intervention) lasting approximately 20 minutes.

Following an identification of need, for advice and support to help someone affected by cancer to become more physically active (raising the issue and brief advice), a referral is sent to Move More Aberdeen (either by a health professional or self-referral). Once the referral is received a telephone consultation is carried out by one of the Move More Aberdeen team, (both of whom have received NHS Scotland ‘Level 2 Health Behaviour Change’ training). This includes questions about the person’s cancer diagnosis, treatment and side-effects, a discussion about the person’s previous levels of physical activity and what they are managing to do now. It also looks at the person’s desires and motivations to get more active, including their physical activity preferences and goals. Barriers are identified and potential solutions discussed. Part of this structured conversation includes the completion of CaPASEF forms (Quality of life, Health state, Physical activity level and fatigue scale).

All of this information is used to develop a jointly agreed activity plan developed in collaboration between the Move More Aberdeen staff and the participant. At present one of four options is available to people in Aberdeen looking to get more active:

  • Self-directed home-based physical activity programme.
  • Gentle Movement group.
  • Walking group.
  • Circuits group.

 All groups have access to the following:

  • Macmillan ‘Get active feel good’ Diary & DVD.
  • Paths for All pedometer packs.

Perhaps the greatest opportunity to positively reinforce a participant’s health behaviour change lies with the Move More Aberdeen volunteers. The volunteers lead the majority of the activity groups and have the greatest face-to-face time with participants. In order to maximise this potential within the volunteers, Move More Aberdeen’s staff have developed a one-day health behaviour change training course, in conjunction with NHS health psychologists. This is offered to all volunteers as an optional addition to their core training (alongside the exercise professionals running circuits classes). The day includes a practical approach to helping participants identify and set SMART goals and encourages them to review and amend goals as necessary. It also highlights the importance for participants to self-monitor (using diaries/pedometers) and reward themselves as they achieve small milestones.

Move More Aberdeen participants are supported through regular phone calls to review their progress and offer follow-on opportunities after a 12-week group. The CaPASEF paperwork is completed over the phone at 12-weeks, 6 months and one year and each of these contacts will be used as an opportunity to reinforce the physical activity message and support people into becoming long-term physical activity.

Active Living: A simple way to increase your daily activity without exercising

C4L_master logoWhat is active living? Active living is a healthy way of life that integrates physical activity into daily routines. You can start small and build your way up to reaching the recommended 30 minutes of physical activity per day without scheduled exercise. This can be achieved in many different ways that are appropriate for most people regardless of age or current fitness level. The idea is that small changes make a big difference. Below we’ve listed some simple and easy ideas to live actively:

  • Take the stairs instead of the lift (build up gradually and hold on to the rail if need be)
  • Walk up the escalators rather than stand (same as above)
  • Walk to your destination or get off the bus/tube/train one stop early to walk a shorter distance.
  • Cycle or run to work (start of slowly, walking intermittently if necessary)
  • Leave your desk at lunch (eat on another floor or in good weather, outside)
  • Stand whilst on the phone at work
  • Have standing or walking meetings at work
  • Where appropriate, walk to a colleagues desk instead of emailing
  • Invest in or construct a DIY standing desk for home or office use

–        In general, reduce the time you spend doing sedentary activities! Time spent watching television, reading and being on the computer can all add up. Try to swap some of these sedentary activities for more active ones like going for a walk with friends or dancing for the night. Gardening, walking the dog, strenuous housework/DIY, carrying the weekly shop home, playing with children and sightseeing are all part of active living.

Being more physically active can greatly reduce your risk of getting cancer and coupled with other lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, a healthier diet, sun awareness and drinking less alcohol your risk decreases further for cancer and other preventable diseases. Click maintaining a healthy lifestyle for more information on our website.

Cancer Prevention Week

This week has been dubbed ‘Cancer Prevention Week’ by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). On their website they have extensive information on lifestyle changes that all contribute to lowering the risk of developing cancer including; Moving more, staying in shape, eating more plant food, drinking less alcohol and many more. You can learn about them all here. Alongside this they have produced a video highlighting some simple lifestyle changes we can all make to better our health and reduce our cancer-risk. Watch it below and share it amongst your friends, family and colleagues to spread the message.