Hundreds of cancer patients team up to Get Active

1 Jul 2023, 4:29 p.m.

Three children ready to play tennis, lined up in front of the tennis net

Hundreds of cancer patients, their families and staff from Great Ormond Street Hospital teamed up to try new sports as part of the Get Active campaign.

The event is run by a team of cancer staff members and the Olivia Hodson Cancer Fund, and encourages current patients and those who have completed their treatment to try a range of sports. It includes everything from fencing to climbing to wheelchair basketball, thanks to volunteers from local and national clubs.

It is part of the physiotherapy team’s work to improve the long-term recovery of cancer patients by encouraging them to be more active.

It can be difficult for children to stay active during cancer treatment, especially if they’re in hospital for long periods without as much space and energy to run and play. But even a small amount of physical activity can boost their physical and mental recovery, and so this event is about giving families the confidence to give it a try. We’ll often hear families say I had no idea my child could do this, and go on to plan things like family badminton tournaments. We hope that after this event families can continue to enjoy being active, and most of all have some fun.

Lucy Waller, the Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist who organises the event

I love the pure joy in the room and the way children can relax, along with the parents as well, and that’s achieved thanks to all the staff and volunteers as it’s a safe space. The children love it because they can try things they’ve never come across in their lives before. We really want to inspire them to go home and be more active.

Christiane Hodson

Many children and young people treated for cancer experience short and long-term side effects such as reduced cardiovascular fitness and bone density, fatigue, pain and loss of muscle.

Physical activity and exercise are increasingly being evidenced as one of the most effective ways of improving physical and psychological wellbeing of those undergoing cancer treatment, and reducing the side effects. It can improve sleep and appetite, help regulate mood and promote a sense of wellbeing and positivity.

As well as the Get Active event and research to improve how active children are during their hospital treatment, the physiotherapists have been heavily involved in helping to design GOSH’s new Children’s Cancer Centre.

The centre will have larger bedrooms, more outdoor space, more play areas and a new therapy space.

For more information see our current building programme.

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