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Strides for Life: #atozchallenge

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I started volunteering at my local cancer support centre about 6 years ago. The centre has a large garden and I spend 3 or 4 hours each week assisting with its maintenance. A couple of years ago I was asked if I’d like to become involved in the Strides for Life programme. I readily agreed.

A group of people participating in Strides for Life Photo from Irish Cancer Society.

The programme was devised by Marie Murphy, in conjunction with the Irish Cancer Society. Marie is a former Irish Olympic athlete who lived and worked for many years in California. She spent 14 years working with breast cancer researcher and author, Dr Susan Love, researching the beneficial effects of exercise for breast cancer patients. During the training she provided for those of us assigned to deliver the programme in Ireland, she related many inspirational stories about patients with whom she had worked. It was in the course of this work that she and Dr Love were able to demonstrate that the rate of recurrence of cancer among patients who adopted a structured programme of exercise is much less than in those who shun exercise.

At the Cuisle centre we provide the fifteen week Strides for Life programme twice each year: February – May and August – December. The group meets weekly. The first week participants are timed walking 1 mile. This provides a measure of their current state of fitness from which they are assigned an appropriate exercise programme. During the following week participants are expected to walk for 15 or 20 minutes on alternate days.

At the start of each of the next 4 weeks the group walks together for 30 or 45 minutes. Because some participants will be able to walk much further than others during this time, we ensure there are 2-3 people accompanying them. This is my role, along with maintaining the necessary records. Week five is a timed mile once again, to assess improved fitness and assign a new programme. The five week cycle is repeated a second time, making up the fifteen week total.

Alongside the exercise there is good conversation and participants certainly appreciate the companionship established over the fifteen weeks. Some friendships established on the programme continue after the programme is complete. Some participants take part in two successive programmes.

Strides for Life is one of several services provided by the centre to support cancer patients and their families as they come to terms with their diagnosis. Check out the centre’s website for more.

S is also for ‘Stronger than Yesterday: Living your Life Beyond Adversity’. It also stands for surviving which is what the book is about. Surviving is also the aim of the Strides for Life programme and everything else that happens at the centre. There is no charge for the services of the centre which receives no state funding. It is financed entirely from voluntary donations and fund-raising events.

Use the comments below to tell me about a voluntary or community service with which you are involved.

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14 Comments

  1. Julie Smith says:

    Visiting from A to Z. What an excellent program! It’s wonderful. I wonder how I can find one to volunteer at in Florida USA?

    http://juliesreadingroom.blogspot.com/2016/04/s-stardust.html

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  2. […] in the garden there. But in 2013 I trained to lead groups of walkers on a programme called ‘Strides for Life‘. Too many of my friends at relatives have been afflicted by this disease which takes lives […]

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  3. Reblogged this on Stevie Turner, Indie Author. and commented:
    Great post Frank, and nice to see you on the Open Book Blog Hop!

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  4. Frank, would you like to join the Facebook group for this, so that you can see the topics in advance?

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  5. franklparker says:

    I’m probably in too many FB group already – but hey, why not! Sounds like there’s some good company there. Send me a link.

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  6. Stephany says:

    Hi Frank! This sounds like a great organization. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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    • franklparker says:

      Thanks for your comment. I’m heading lover there again this afternoon to do some work in the garden. Yesterday morning I walked with the recovering patients in a beautiful woodland nearby. It’s wonderful to be able to do something you enjoy and benefit others at the same time.

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  7. pjfiala says:

    What a wonderful organization, thank you for sharing.

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    • franklparker says:

      Thanks for your comment. I’m heading lover there again this afternoon to do some work in the garden. Yesterday morning I walked with the recovering patients in a beautiful woodland nearby. It’s wonderful to be able to do something you enjoy and benefit others at the same time.

      Like

  8. P.J. MacLayne says:

    Sounds like a great cause!

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