Walsall patients recovering from cancer treatment are being invited to walk this way to boost their wellbeing.
A project started by Macmillan Cancer Support, the joint initiative between Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust and Walsall Healthy Spaces at Walsall Council is hoping to persuade more cancer patients to join weekly walks at Walsall Arboretum.
Staff at Walsall Palliative Care Centre recommend the group to their patients and more will always be welcomed.
Around a dozen people – most but not all of them cancer patients – join one of three walks around the Arboretum each Tuesday at 10am. Each has its own leader.
Walks are around two and a half to three miles, a mile and a half and about half a mile, around the lake. All are free of charge, relatively flat and wheelchair and pushchair friendly.
Julie Hykin, 62, and a retired paediatric physiotherapist who worked for Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust for 29 years, is one of the three walk leaders and has been with the group for five years.
Grandmother Julie from Bloxwich said: “We have someone in his 70s who has been coming for years and likes to lead the way and others who can’t manage very far and like to take things slower. It doesn’t matter as we cater for everyone and wheelchair users are welcome too.”
Usha Chouhan, 70, has beaten breast cancer twice and is a founder member of the group started by Becky Roberts, physical activity advisor for Macmillan’s ‘Feel good, move more’ movement.
Julie and Usha’s husband Raj took over leading the group when Becky left and since then, Ian Norton, 74, from Short Heath, has joined them as a walk leader.
Grandmother of four Usha has had ankylosing spondylitis (which causes inflammation of the back) since the age of 44 and suffers with arthritis, both of which forced the former seamstress to retire early.
“I’ve been doing the walks for seven or eight years and I don’t like to break the routine,” said Usha, a mum of two of Broadway North, Walsall.
“I like to get out and meet people and chat – if you stay in the house you get fed up and keep eating and taking tablets. I also have bladder problems but walking helps.”
Usha’s photo is displayed on the wall opposite the café at Walsall Manor Hospital in recognition of her work to inspire Asian women who have had cancer treatment.
Sue Laws from Rushall had lung cancer during lockdown and is now thankfully in remission. She found out about the walking group via Facebook and has been doing the walks for four weeks.
“It’s like we have been coming for a lot longer than that because everyone is really friendly to each other,” said Sue, who walks with her friend and neighbour Karen Jones, 60 and also from Rushall. “We have a WhatsApp group to keep in touch.”
Linda Pye from Aldridge and daughter-in-law Danielle Bell from The Butts aren’t cancer patients but joined the group to get fit and for company.
Kalbinder Sidhu, 57, from Walsall, has been walking with the group for three months after it was recommended by a support group at Walsall Palliative Care Centre when she was recovering from breast cancer in 2018.
The retired businesswoman and grandmother said: “It’s a good, social group and it takes you away from your troubles. It’s good to talk with people who have been through similar things and it gets you out into the fresh air.”
John Gardner, 78, beat cancer of the bladder in 2018 but it has returned and he is due to have an operation next month. A retired production engineer, personnel manager and travel agent, John was vice chair of Walsall Health Authority before it became a Trust and started walking more following the death of his wife of 51 years, retired book-keeper Barbara, to secondary cancers of the bowel, lungs and brain in April 2017.
John, who lives in Highgate, now walks 10 miles every day and said: “I joined the walking group five years ago on the recommendation of Goscote Hospice, where Barbara died. Since then I’ve become a serious walker and through this I’ve met a number of nice people.”
Walks start outside the Visitor Centre in the Arboretum at 9.45am for a 10am start and anyone is welcome. The nearest vehicular entrance is Arboretum Road, Walsall WS1 2QH.