New swimming group launched for cancer patients in Bury St Edmunds

Nicky McKee, Macmillan Cancer Care; Sarah-Jane Taylor, swimming instructor, with swimmers Angela Coster left and Lynne Pritchard
Nicky McKee, Macmillan Cancer Care; Sarah-Jane Taylor, swimming instructor, with swimmers Angela Coster left and Lynne Pritchard

A swimming group for cancer patients has been launched at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre to help them on their journey to recovery.

The new initiative is open to those who are undergoing or have completed treatment and aims to improve their strength and stamina.

The group, which caters for all abilities, offers ‘very relaxed and gentle’ exercises as well as the chance to socialise with others diagnosed with cancer.

The initiative has been set up by Suffolk Sport, Abbeycroft Leisure, Macmillan and the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Participants have exclusive use of the activity pool and instructor Sarah-Jane Taylor will provide advice and guidance to regain confidence in the water and improve or adapt their swimming strokes when required.

For their first visit, she will meet people at reception and ensure they know where to go and where the changing rooms are.

Louise Smith, Macmillan survivorship lead, said: “Being active can be an important part of recovery after cancer treatment.

“It can reduce tiredness, reduce anxiety and depression, improve mood and strengthen muscles, joints and bones.

“Swimming is a fantastic way to improve strength and stamina, not putting any impact on the joints and can be done at your own pace.

“This group will also have the added benefit of peer support and opportunity to share experiences.”

Angela Coster, of Wetherden, said the swimming group has helped her ‘turn a corner’ after feeling ‘dreadful for months’ as a result of her cancer treatment.

The 67-year-old was diagnosed with breast cancer on January 6 2016 and had two rounds of surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She is still on treatment but has felt ‘much better’ in the last month after taking advantage of the swimming group and a gym at the hospital .

She said: “It’s been brilliant - gradually I’m getting stronger and I meet other people who have gone through the same thing.”

Matt Hickey, health, fitness and physical activity development manager for Abbeycroft Leisure, said: “We are proud to be part of the project, an opportunity to offer activities such as the swim session is a great idea. We hope it goes from strength to strength and will endeavour to support such a fantastic initative wherever we can”.

Participants are offered a 10 per cent discount off drinks in the leisure centre coffee shop at the end of the session to provide a chance to socialise.

The group meets every Wednesday from noon to 1pm at the leisure centre, in Beeton’s Way, and costs £3.50 per session.

To book contact the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre macmillansurvivorship@wsh.nhs.uk or phone 01284 713023.