Last year, hundreds of cancer patients treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) came together for an action-packed day of sport. It was part of a new project, "Get Active! Through Cancer & Beyond," to inspire them to help improve their recovery and long-term health. This July, the cancer sports day is back, reuniting patients past and present with the wide spectrum of GOSH staff involved in their care, including doctors, nurses, physios and dieticians.
Patient Isla gets active
"Isla enjoyed every second of the day last year," says GOSH mum Anna.
"Isla ensured we visited every area and that she had her passport stamped to show she'd completed each activity. Her favourite bits were having her face painted by the magical Spread a Smile team, fencing with her sister, and dancing freely and happily.
"The day-to-day challenges and struggles brought on by cancer are forgotten at an event full of children who have all been through similar journeys. They are given such a special, exciting day. The event gives us all an opportunity to socialise with our friends and the wonderful teams from GOSH who have provided exceptional care. We are surrounded by the most supportive people who understand what we have been through.
The benefits of a cancer sports day
"Keeping active through treatment is essential, both for physical and mental health. Isla was diagnosed with cancer on her first birthday. She had to meet key milestones like learning to walk whilst in hospital. Through play and physio we tried to give Isla a sense of normality. She broke her leg twice due to weak bones as a side effect from treatment. Whilst it wasn't easy, we encouraged Isla to build up her strength and keep moving, playing and following her brother and twin sister around."
Lucy Waller, Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist of Cancer Unit at GOSH and co-project lead for Get Active, said:
“Exercise is increasingly recognised as one of the most effective ways of improving physical and psychological health and wellbeing for children being treated for cancer and beyond.
“Participation in exercise has also been shown to have a really positive effect on children’s self-confidence and sense of belonging – both are so important when children are trying to maintain their friendship groups through treatment.”
Take part in this years' event
All children who have been treated for cancer at Great Ormond Street Hospital are welcome to sign up for Get Active! 2020. This includes past, present and future patients. Parents and siblings can also attend with the previous or existing patient. This will include cancer patients who may have had a bone marrow transplant as part of their treatment.
The Get Active Cancer Sports Day was sadly postponed this year due to COVID-19. We'll be back on 4 July 2021, so save the date!