Breast Cancer

Living with cancer can be challenging, add a pandemic and the situation for many has become very stressful. Walk the Walk have gathered together advice and tips from cancer charities and organisations that are working on the front line of cancer. For more advice links are provided.

Walk the Walk Trustee Stephen Johnston, Professor of Breast Cancer Medicine and Head of Medical Oncology at the Royal Marsden knows just what an anxious time this is for those living with cancer, or those with undiagnosed symptoms afraid to go to hospitals.

We asked Stephen for any advice that he could offer;

"It is really important to continue following government advice regarding social distancing and good hygiene. Many patients on treatments such as chemotherapy, are at greater risk and should have received an NHSE letter sent to vulnerable individuals, so they do need to obey the ‘Stay at Home’ rules until the national situation improves.

The other important key message that we have really stressed to impart, is that cancer treatment will continue, but perhaps in a different way to how patients are used to receiving it. Clinics are now held as telephone consults, and many cancer drugs are sent directly to patients at home, rather than needing them always to attend hospitals. Rest assured that cancer operations are still occurring, but may now use the private sector hospitals which are working with the NHS, to deliver the capacity that we need.

It is so important that those with suspected symptoms of cancer still seek medical attention, and don’t feel frightened from attending hospital to get the help they need."


  • Balance with Qi Gong - Breast Cancer Haven
  • We all need “The Little Book of Self Care” - Penny Brohn UK
  • Singing makes you feel good - Tenovus Cancer Care
  • If you're young and love your Boobs! - COPPAFEEL
  • If only I could talk to someone like me! - Breast Cancer Now

Text by Walk the Walk, information provided by linked charities. 

Achieving balance with Qi Gong

Qi Gong pronounced Chee gung, translated means ‘working with life energy’. Its roots are based in Chinese medicine, martial arts and philosophy, where it is widely used. As an ancient form of “dynamic meditation” it gracefully combines gentle physical movements with relaxation, and breathing exercises for healing and meditation. Traditionally it has always been seen as a way of achieving balance or ‘qi’, with the simple belief that if our life force is balanced then healing can occur.

The movements are generally done standing, but can also be completed in a seating position, meaning they’re perfect if you’re feeling tired or have physical limitations.

Qi Gong has been shown to be very helpful for people recovering from the side-effects of breast cancer treatment, including immobility, fatigue and stress. If you’re going through treatment for breast cancer or any cancer, why not give it a go and sign up for an online session of Qi Gong. 

We love the selection of wonderful online classes introduced by our friends at the charity Breast Cancer Haven since the start of Lockdown. Sign up for a free class here. To find out more about Qi Gong at Breast Cancer Haven watch below:

We all need “The Little Book of Self Care”

This may be a little book, but it is packed to the brim with 30 beautiful and simple ways to remind yourself just how important you are, and how to nurture and look after yourself. The tips and ideas can be practised by anyone who wants to nurture their own self-care, not just someone affected by cancer. 

You could try a different message each day, each one comes with a number of helpful suggestions, ideas on how you might achieve it and a space for the user to write about what they did, and how well the tip worked for them on a scale of 1-10.

Tips include ideas such as; 

  • Self-care doesn’t have to be selfish - We all need to take a break sometimes from the challenges that life throws our way. It can be very easy to put this off, feeling that we are being selfish in taking time for ourselves.
  • Believe in the power of talking - Never underestimate the power of talking. Talking through your concerns can help to improve your mood and quality of life, alleviating anxiety and depression.
  • Wear something that makes you feel good - Never wear something just because other people are wearing it or because you think you should. Feeling fashionable will never outweigh feeling comfortable and confident.

In these uncertain times we are all feeling anxious and unsettled. Self-care is a huge part of strong resilience and has a big influence on how well the body’s immune system can cope. It’s all about looking after yourself physically and emotionally; doing things that you know are good for you and not doing things that make you feel bad.

Walk the Walk has been working with the wonderful charity Penny Brohn UK for many years. The Bristol Whole Life Approach is at the heart of everything they do to support people with cancer. Download The Little Book of Self Care for free and start today!

For more information about Penny Brohn Cancer Care or to visit their help line.

Singing makes you feel good… and now we know it does you good!

Singing in a choir for just one hour boosts levels of immune proteins in people affected by cancer, reduces stress and improves mood, which in turn could have a positive impact on overall health. There has long been anecdotal evidence that singing in a choir makes people feel good, but for the first time Tenovus Cancer Care and the Royal College of Music have been able to demonstrate that the immune system can be affected by singing.

They have been building a body of evidence for over six years to show that singing in a choir can have a range of social, emotional and psychological benefits. Now with the biological effects, it could help to put people in the best possible position to receive treatment, maintain remission and support cancer patients.

  • Choir members were asked to give samples of their saliva before singing for an hour and then again just after. The samples were analysed and the recent study showed that singing for an hour was associated with significant reductions in stress hormones, such as cortisol, and increases in quantities of cytokines; proteins of the immune system - which can boost the body's ability to fight serious illness.
  • Rosie Dow, Head of Sing with Us at Tenovus Cancer Care and co-author of the research, said: "This research is so exciting, as it echoes everything all our choir members tell us about how singing has helped them. I've seen peoples' lives transformed through singing in our choirs so knowing that singing also makes a biological difference will hopefully help us to reach more people with the message that singing is great for you - mind, body and soul."
  • Cancer can be lonely, isolating and frightening but the possibility of coming together with others that are facing the same battles can be incredibly uplifting. It is important that every person not only has their medical network, but also their support network to help with the emotional and psychological effects of cancer. Tenovus and their research have shown that a choir is a fun and fulfilling experience in every way and could be just the thing you need!


Finally, just to say that some very positive things have come from this pandemic already. As we all adhere to social distancing and self-isolation Gareth Malone choirmaster and broadcaster has ventured into an ambitious project to bring voices and musicians together. People across the country are submitting videos of themselves singing or playing which he is then digitally mastering into one choir. Find out more here.

How to join a choir?

If reading this has inspired you, to join a choir the easiest way is to either contact your local cancer support centre to find one local to you. Many cancer charities have choirs or connections to choirs and should be able to help.

Tenvous ‘Sing with Us’ choirs are across Wales and in some locations in England to find out more here. 

The Tenovus helpline can be found here.

If you're young and love your Boobs!

Calling all younger women, our friends at the charity CoppaFeel do some amazing work raising awareness about breast cancer in younger women, encouraging those under 30 to regularly check their breasts. During the current pandemic, we know there may be some of you out there in this age bracket that have concerns about changes you have noticed.

If you are not sure what to do, and think you might have breast cancer symptoms. Beth Lynch is a GP in Liverpool and has some really good advice for younger women so check out the video here.

To contact CoppaFeel click here.

If only I could talk to someone like me!

 When you've been diagnosed with breast cancer, life can feel very lonely and frightening, particularly during these very challenging times. What you really need is to speak to someone who has been through a similar experience, someone who has been there themselves. Essentially, someone like you. Maybe you're concerned about your treatment choices, how to cope mentally with what's happened or how to return to some sense of normality after your treatment has ended. Sometimes it is just nice to talk to someone you don’t know, but understands exactly how you feel.

We're delighted that our wonderful friends at Breast Cancer Now are offering just this, a fabulous service called "Someone like me". Their trained staff will match you with a volunteer and you can chat from the heart about anything that you’ve experienced - whether you've been diagnosed yourself, are going through genetic testing or if you're the partner, family member or a friend of someone affected by breast cancer.

Go on, get in touch, there is somebody out there just like you who wants to help you through this.

Call the Breast Cancer Now Helpline on 0808 800 6000.

Maybe you’re worried about potential signs and symptoms of breast cancer; you might have been diagnosed with breast cancer yourself; or you’re concerned about a friend or relative. You also might have a question about your treatment during the current pandemic.

The helpline is currently available from:

  • 10am – 4pm - Monday to Friday 
  • 9am – 1pm - On Saturday.
  • If you can’t get through, or if it’s out of hours, there is a voicemail facility so a breast care nurse can call you back.

If you’d prefer to ask your question in writing, rather than make a phone call, we suggest you use Breast Cancer Now’s “Ask Our Nurses” service. Find out more here.

Email us to let us know if there are any topics, subjects or articles that you would like to see included next time.

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