What is 5k Your Way all about?
Ever since I came to the end of my own cancer treatment back in 2016, I have been looking for ways to help people affected by cancer appreciate the many benefits that exercise and physical activity bring at every stage of the cancer journey. Shortly after I finished my level 4 Cancer and Exercise Rehabilitation qualification with CanRehab, a friend told me about 5k Your Way – she was just about to set up a group over at Alice Holt, near Farnham.
I went along to her first event last July, and was immediately hooked. This was something I really wanted to be a part of. It’s a great concept, and within a few hours I had contacted the core 5k Your Way team asking if it would be possible to set up a group in Basingstoke.
5k Your Way is an amazing initiative – it was initially set up in Nottingham by Gemma Hillier-Moses and Lucy Gossage. Gemma is an international athlete who was diagnosed with cancer herself at the age of 24, and Lucy is an oncologist and an Ironman champion.
It is a community-based support group with a difference. Under normal circumstances we meet up on the last Saturday of each month at our local parkrun. Participants then walk or run (or a combination of both) as much or little of the 5k as they want, and then we go for a cuppa and a chat afterwards. It is for people living with and beyond cancer, their friends and families, healthcare professionals who work with cancer – in short anyone who’s life is touched by cancer in any way. There are now 56 groups across the UK and Ireland, and it is immensely popular.
Shortly after I was given the go-ahead to start up our Basingstoke group, I recruited 2 more Ambassadors. Sue is a local GP, and Sarah is married to our local parkrun director, and has been through cancer herself. Later Margaret – who has supported her husband through cancer treatment – joined the team. The four of us do this on a voluntary basis, and we wouldn’t be where we are now without their hard work and dedication. For all of us it is about giving something back to the community, and supporting others affected by cancer.
To cut a long story short, our first meeting was in September last year, and on the last
Saturday of each month we join the Basingstoke parkrun in War Memorial Park. As there is no café nearby we go for a cuppa afterwards at the tennis centre in the park – Totally Tennis. They have been so good to us, welcoming, helpful and understanding – even when 26 of us traipse in in the middle of winter in our muddy boots and shoes.
In just a few short months, we grew into one of the bigger groups in the country, with 26 people attending our last event prior to lockdown. We have been fortunate enough to make some very useful and supportive contacts within our local NHS trust, the Cancer Services Partnership, MacMillan, and other support groups in the area, and this has really helped us to grow our group.
Our group is a complete mix – with one thing in common, our lives have been touched by
cancer in some shape or form. We have people who have just been diagnosed, some who are going through treatment, some who have just finished, people who have been living beyond cancer for many years. Some have lost close friends or family to cancer. We’ve had some great feedback – people love coming along and tell us that it makes a real positive difference to their lives.
It is really sad that the coronavirus has had to put a temporary halt to our meet-ups. Still – there is lots we are doing within our community and beyond to encourage anyone affected by cancer to keep active during these challenging times. We have a team Zoom call once a fortnight, and are doing some team virtual walks. 21 people and 6 dogs are logging the miles they do on their feet each week, and I’m collating this every Friday. In the fortnight since we started, Team Basingstoke 5k Your Way finished the 70-mile Wayfarer’s walk as a warm-up. We have now covered 604 miles in total, and are half way up the scenic route from Lands End to John O’Groats, having arrived in North Yorkshire at the end of this week. It’s amazing how so many people have engaged with this, and we’ve even has 5 new members since lockdown!
I do hope that we can all meet up again safely soon – in the meantime I am so proud and honoured to be a member of this fabulous community, and for the opportunity to make such a difference in people’s lives.
If you would like to find out more about what 5k Your Way is all about, or would like to get involved, then please get in touch on 07767 890962 or www.5kyourway.org