Initiative to get cancer survivors moving

Initiative to get cancer survivors moving

20 May 2020

A NEW initiative has been launched to encourage people living with cancer to virtually climb their way around some of the world’s top landmarks — without leaving the comfort of their own homes.

Newry, Mourne and Down Council’s Macmillan Move More co-ordinator, Laura McGrath, is behind the new scheme designed to encourage people to stay active during the coronavirus pandemic.

Laura is one of 11 Move More coordinators funded by Macmillan in every council area across the province to support those living with cancer. 

The programme helps people to get active and stay active, with physical activity safe during and after most types of cancer treatment.

In addition, physical activity can also help educe the side effects of treatment, prevent the occurrence of other long-term conditions and reduce the risk of cancer spreading or returning.

And while walking to the top of the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty or Big Ben might seem like a mammoth task, Laura is encouraging her move more participants to take part in a virtual challenge and slowly, but surely, reach impressive new global heights from home over the coming weeks.

Since the coronavirus lockdown, Laura and her 10 other colleagues across Northern Ireland have been working from home and while face-to-face classes and appointments are not possible, they have been working on positive, fun and interesting ways to keep programme participants motivated and active in the comfort of their own surroundings.

Laura explained: “Like all move more coordinators, I’m usually based in our local leisure facilities or out and about meeting participants. 

“We were due to have our first regional event of 2020 this month where our coordinators and participants usually travel to one part of Northern Ireland  to take part in a fun activity and have some social time together.”

Laura said the round the world challenge was inspired by her and a number of her colleagues, explaining that while they can’t bring everyone together in person, they wanted to find a way to motivate and connect their groups virtually and give them all a positive goal to focus on.

“It’s simple for move more participants to get involved in our round the world challenge,” she continued.

“We’ve identified how many steps it would take to climb certain landmarks and are encouraging people to virtually climb as many of them as they can, by building up their steps every day using a front door step, bottom stair or kerb, and keeping track of their daily tally.”

A new pack has been developed to support those getting involved, with the co-ordinators encouraging participants to take part at a level that is appropriate for their level of fitness.

“They’ll be sharing their updates with us and letting us know how they’re getting on as the days and weeks progress,” Laura revealed. “We may not be able to physically travel the world at the moment, but there’s no limit on our imagination.”

More More participant Breege Foran said the challenge is literally keeping everyone on their toes.

She continued: “In these difficult and challenging times, Move More has been truly amazing in inspiring us to keep active whilst in lockdown. Laura has been posting circuits, line-dancing videos and this fun around the world challenge.

“We motivate each other with positive texts and messages into the group chat daily and, of course, we are all very much looking forward to meeting and greeting each other soon.”

To find out more about the challenge and how you can get involved in or referred to the Move More programme, contact Laura on 07769 285574, or visit the Move More NI Facebook page.

Comprehensive information and support, including Macmillan’s latest guidance and advice on the impact of coronavirus on cancer care, are available on