A CANCER education and exercise group set up at Yeovil District Hospital is celebrating its first anniversary this month.

The SPRING (Support, Proactive, Recovery, Independence, Normality, Good Health) group supports the health and wellbeing of patients undergoing cancer treatment.

SPRING is an exercise and education programme which was developed to improve cancer patients' quality of life.

This holistic approach offers cancer patients the emotional support they need as well as supporting them physically. 

This initiative was developed by the therapy team at Yeovil Hospital working with the cancer care team to develop a suitable programme.

A patient undergoing chemotherapy asked to be referred to the therapy team as she was a tri-athlete and didn't want to lose her fitness.

The therapy team then developed the programme as they realised there would be a whole cohort of patients who could benefit from exercising whilst undergoing treatment.

At around the same time Macmillan Cancer Support published an evidence review on the importance of physical activity for people living with and beyond cancer.

Mary Cruishanks from Crewkerne, who is a patient attending the SPRING group, said: “I did not feel keen about joining SPRING and only did it to keep the chemotherapy nurses happy – however after 12 weeks I didn’t want to leave!

"I was most disappointed with my performance on the first week but with the support and encouragement of the physiotherapists I feel I have improved so much.

"Their help with the use of equipment has been really good. I have enjoyed the company of others using the gym and we have bounced symptoms and feelings off of each other.

"The social hour after and the speakers we have had have been very good – I have learnt several useful things.”

The education sessions were developed to enhance patients’ experiences and enable them to interact with their peers to establish supportive networks.

During the course of the programme the education sessions includes talks from a GP, a dietician providing advice on the best diet while undergoing treatment and an expert on financial support for people living with cancer and their families.

This education programme gives patients easy, coordinated access to expertise, and equips them with the tools, knowledge and confidence to take back control of their lives.

Working as a group also offers patients the chance to share advice and experiences to provide a truly holistic support-network.