Cancer Support Is Not Keeping Up!

When I first started this work way back in 2008, there were times that I did wonder if I was the only person who was very unsatisfied with the state of cancer support services outside of the clinical environment. But as time has gone on I am approached by more and more people, both patients and professionals who are finding that they also want to speak out about what should be improved. Many, like me have decided they can have more impact from outside the system, with an independent voice.

There are now so many very experienced people running independent services outside of large charities and healthcare providers. The problem here is that we all struggle when it comes to marketing as most of us have very limited budgets and don’t have the luxury of teams of well paid staff doing that full time. What we do need is decent collaboration so that we can all work together and patients will be able to find the very services that they need. Sure the N.H.S is starved of money and resource, but a lot of what they need is being supplied outside of the service, if they would only look up!

I would like to thank Gemma for writing this piece and explain why she also chose to leave the service and go out on her own. Why she is prepared to go through tough times to ensure that patients get what they deserve.

“I’m writing this blog as I start out on a new venture to help people affected by cancer. It early days but I hope that by writing this I can reach out to other people who are also throwing caution to the wind to improve cancer care. I would love to hear from you if have any advice about launching a new cancer service or would be interested in working together.

The big idea! Having worked as a physiotherapist in the NHS and private sector I have seen time and time again patients undergoing cancer treatment who had not received the advice and physiotherapy that could have helped them manage their cancer treatment and its side effects.gemma-5 Patient who undergo joint replacement surgery are routinely given specific post-operative guidance to the exercises and physiotherapy treatment to maximize their recovery and getting back to the activities they love. For cancer patients, the story is very different. So…. this year I have launched GH Physiotherapy a physiotherapy service designed specifically to meet the needs of people with cancer. I go to people’s home at a time to suit them to provide the PINC program designed to help maximize recovery, regain physical and emotional strength, and improve body confidence and control. It is suitable after any type of cancer surgery or treatment and accommodates all ages, fitness levels and mobility.

The PINC Program aims to help:

  • Optimize physical and functional recovery
  • Ease pain and muscular tension
  • Regain strength and mobility
  • Increase energy levels and improve breathing
  • Strengthen core muscles and improve posture
  • Improve physical functioning and maintain independence
  • Reclaim body confidence and control
  • Reduce treatment related side effects and
  • Shift focus from illness to wellness

Why??? I have been asking myself this a lot as I learn what a huge undertaking starting a new service is. This idea came to me this year as I was planning my wedding and reflecting upon family occasions and family that would not be able to be a part of the most important day of my life. My Granny died of cancer when I was young and sadly I have few memories of her. gemma-harris-1I do know though that she must have been a remarkable and inspirational woman, working in the women auxiliary air force and going on to raising three strong women, my mum and two aunts. This motivates me each day to help as many people as I can so that each young girl can have her granny at her wedding passing on words of wisdom.

Can you help???  I would like to raise awareness of how physiotherapy and exercise can reduce side effects of the disease and debilitating cancer treatments, and can improve functional ability, quality of life and ultimately, survival. Do you have any fundraising events, meeting or groups I can speak at so more people know help is out there? I am also looking to collaborate with other people working in this area to share experiences and cross refer to when appropriate.  And of course if you are living with cancer and would like any advice from me the please get in touch via my website ghphysiotherapy /Twitter @PhysiotherapyGh or via my Facebook page

Also a free Pilate’s session for whoever helps me come up with a better website name! GH Physiotherapy is so dull!!!”

Thanks so much for the above piece Gemma, and if you have any of your own examples of independents using their own experience to help people we would love to hear from you to give them a shout out too!


  1. Hi Chris, have shared your blog, Gemma’s Facebook page and her video about cancer related fatigue over on the Action on Womb Cancer Facebook page. I was told I’d be seen by a physiotherapist after cancer surgery but never was. Nor was I advised about what exercises I should – or shouldn’t! – do to aid recovery, counteract fatigue and help regain physical strength. Good luck Gemma! Best wishes as always Chris. Deb xx

    • Hi Deb, and thanks as always for your support. This is yet another example of people leaving the service because they do not feel that people affected by cancer are not getting the help they deserve.

      What makes it worse for me, is that these independent services exist throughout the country, many of them free, but none of the large healthcare organisations signpost patients to them. In many cases is for political reasons only which saddens me enormously! One of the reasons we have started Your simPal too!

      Hoping to get some exciting new collaborations going in the New Year 🙂 Best to you and yours Deb xxx

  2. Thank you Chris for.your useful blog as always I am going to post this to all my friends on fb who are in many parts of England, Wales and Scotland. My thoughts over the last 3 weeks are of my lovely daughter in law Julie who has to have an op on November 29th she 51years luckily she had a scan I wish more women and men would do so. The strange thing is that Julie’s has upset me more than when I had mine. Have not thought about this before and wonder if this happens to other people. Hope you and family are well? Love Georgine xx

    • Hi Georgine, and thanks so much for sharing. So sorry to hear about Julie, and hope all goes well for her on the 29th. Actually that happens to me too, I feel so much worse when I hear about other peoples issues than I did about my own. Partly because we know what a lot of it entails I guess and it is not nice to know what other people will be going through, whilst we feel so helpless? Big hugs to you all, and please let me know how things progress, Chris xxx

  3. Great blog. I’m a member of the physio FB group of over 4000 physios who do an amazing job, many working for the NHS or in private practice to help people with cancer,from promoting exercise post treatment to lymphodema physios for post breast cancer treatment. Many members of this group also give out our health brochure and refer their patients to our website to help their patients with sexual issues following treatment, both men and women, especially following gynaecological, breast and prostate cancer.
    Jo Taylor and Liz O’Riordan are both huge advocates and walking adverts for the benefits of exercise during and post treatment. We will get together soon to do our video, I promise 🙂 Hope you are keeping well Sam x

  4. Hi Sam, and thanks so much for sharing your expertise on this subject. A lot has changed in the time that I have been treated and back then it was all about taking rest. I am delighted to see this work with physios etc and am so pleased to see so many active on social media.

    Of course the physical side of things is so important and I am delighted that you get included in that work. You are right, both Jo and Liz are fabulous examples of the benefits of exercise.

    All good this side thanks and your simPal is keeping us fully occupied, going round the country and introducing the service. I’m sure everything will be busy for us both up to Christmas, but will be happy to cheer up a dull January day by doing our video.

    Appreciate the support, and best with all you do, Chris xx

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