5k Your Way – Living Well With or Beyond Cancer

Before his diagnosis, Jon was very active, competing in European and World duathlon events for the GB team, traveling all over the world. He even won his age group in a sprint duathlon during the first week of his chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. Anne is also very active and is aiming to complete the London classics this year, finishing with the prestigious London Marathon. Anne has successfully raised over £2,500 for Macmillan Cancer Support, who really helped and cared for our family.

5K Your Way is a community initiative that helps patients and the friends or family of patients with or beyond a cancer diagnosis, encouraging them to keep active by running, walking, cheering or volunteering at their local parkrun. 5k Your Way Ambassadors are keen to support and chat to anyone that has been affected, either during parkrun or over tea and cake afterwards. 5k Your Way was founded nationally on June 29th, 2018 by Lucy Gossage, oncology consultant and 12 times ironman champion, and Gemma Hillier-Moses, International Runner and Founder of MOVE charity who was diagnosed with cancer herself at the age of 24 in 2012. There are currently 53 5k Your Way locations across the UK and Ireland, building a strong collaboration with parkrun, with support from the community of parkrun volunteers. On the last Saturday of every month 5k Your Way Ambassadors attend parkruns up and down the country, encouraging others to keep moving throughout their cancer journey.

Parkrun is a free to run, timed 5k that takes place every Saturday morning, in over 1,400 locations, 22 countries and 5 continents. Cleethorpes parkrun has a vibrant community you will experience nowhere else with dedicated volunteers and friendly runners. The beauty of parkrun is that you don’t have to run, you can jog or walk, you can volunteer or just cheer from the side lines. Parkrun welcomes everyone, of all backgrounds and capabilities, from beginners to sprinters, it is a space where no one will judge or criticise you, just helpful comments and friendly smiles.

The 5k Your Way at Cleethorpes parkrun started in February of 2019, with Anne-Marie and Jonathan Fowler, my parents, at the head. Jon was previously diagnosed with metastatic head and neck cancer and as a team GB duathlete, exercise played a crucial, lifesaving part during treatment, as well as in his recovery from said treatment and surgery. During any difficult time, everyone has their own coping mechanism, for Jon and Anne exercise, the people they met while doing so, and the support they received was and still is invaluable. For our family, Cleethorpes parkrun and 5k Your Way is how we grew from the terrifying experience and how we found a way to help others see light in the dark times.

Exercise has many benefits, it keeps us healthy not only physically but mentally too. It is sometimes even referred to the secret wonder drug of the NHS. In a survey Macmillan Cancer Support and YouGov carried out in 2012, 77% of the 417 people that had completed treatment in the last two years, said that they had not been spoken to by their oncologists about the importance of being physically active during or after cancer treatment. 79% said the same about their clinical nurse specialists. 82% said the same about their GPs. Studies show that exercise can improve or prevent the decline in physical function without increasing fatigue during cancer treatment. As well as improving aspects of psychological wellbeing during and after cancer treatment.

Over the years my family has made lifelong friends through parkrun. It has provided us with a community and has supported us when we needed it most. The 5K Your Way initiative enables us to help local people build a support network, to move against cancer and achieve the best possible outcome for their diagnosis.

If you or a loved one have been affected by cancer, please come along on the last Saturday of each month.

The links you will need to begin your journey:
For 5k Your Way- https://5kyourway.org/
Cleethorpes 5k Your Way on Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/Cleethorpe5KYourWay/
To register for 5k Your Way or parkrun- https://5kyourway.org/register

Article by Young Reporter Emma Fowler
First published in Grimsby Telegraph 14th January 2020