Working together with Trekstock to offer a specialist exercise programme for 20 and 30 year-olds with cancer in Newcastle

Healthworks is working with Trekstock, an award-winning national cancer charity that supports people in their 20s and 30s living with cancer to offer a new programme in Newcastle. RENEW is a specialist exercise programme is available for Newcastle-based 20 and 30 year-olds who have been diagnosed with cancer, and is designed to improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

RENEW has been created by Trekstock – specifically with cancer experts – and is being provided in Newcastle by Healthworks and YMCA North Tyneside.

Jemima Reynolds, Head of Programmes and Engagement, Trekstock, explains why RENEW is so important: “Research shows that physical activity can help with issues such as fatigue, side effects, quality of life and mental health and support the prevention of recurrence in breast, bowel and prostate cancers by 40%. But knowing what exercise to do, how much and how often, can be daunting for people with a cancer diagnosis and while they’re receiving treatment. We’re excited to be partnering with two trusted and brilliant charities in the North East so as many people in their 20s and 30s can get the tools and support they need to live better with and beyond cancer. Our experts know that the struggle is real and at every class, they will tailor what you’re doing to meet your individual needs.”

RENEW is an eight-week programme of individual, buddy and small-group classes run by cancer exercise specialists who guide class members through evidence-based physical activities. Classes will take place at Healthworks, The Health Resource Centre in Benwell and YMCA North Tyneside, on Church Way in North Shields. The goal is simple: to keep young people with cancer moving in whatever way works for them, whatever their diagnosis, and however they’re feeling whilst providing an opportunity to connect with others.  The programme started 18 October and will run until June 2024.  You can find out more on the Trekstock website.

Paul Court, Healthworks’ Chief Officer said “I’m very pleased that we are teaming up with another King’s Fund award winning charity to deliver the RENEW programme for young cancer survivors to help them with their recovery. Healthworks have been delivering support for cancer screening, cancer awareness and cancer champions across the North East and this will be an opportunity for us to showcase our skills in supporting those to exercise when diagnosed with cancer.  We are excited to be partnering with Trekstock to deliver their 8-week RENEW programme for young cancer survivors to help them with their recovery.”

In 2020, the North East had the highest age-standardised incidence rate for all cancers in both males and females at 634 and 530 per 100,000 people, respectively. Over the past three decades, cancer rates for 25-29 year-olds have risen faster than for any other age group in the UK, but there are few services designed to meet their particular needs. More people are surviving cancer than ever before, however, the cost to their mental and physical health can be high. Too old for teenage services and usually the youngest by many decades on cancer wards, young people are often the only individuals in their peer group with a cancer diagnosis. Exercise classes are a great way to meet people of a similar age in the same boat, tackling isolation, physical wellbeing and improving quality of life all in one activity.

Clare Sacco, of Newcastle, was first diagnosed with breast cancer a few days after her 25th birthday in 2019 and sought the support of Trekstock. Unfortunately, in 2023, she learned that the cancer had once again returned. This time, it was incurable stage 4 breast cancer, which had also spread to her lungs and liver. Clare has registered to be part of the RENEW programme.

Commenting on why Trekstock is so important to her, Clare said: “One of their biggest missions is to bring normality to the lives of those who are going through or have gone through cancer. They arrange and facilitate incredible social events, and it is at these events that I have met others that ‘just get it’. These people have become true friends and a constant support. Without Trekstock, navigating life as a young person would be very different.”

Clare has garnered amazing support of her friends and family to help fundraise for Trekstock, to help provide support for other people going through cancer like her. Clare’s friends and family have already done some fantastic fundraisers, including taking part in the 2023 Great North Run. There is still so much more in the pipeline. Clare is even planning to incorporate a fundraiser for Trekstock into her wedding day in February 2024. Her colleagues at Famous 4.15 even partnered up with The Jesmond Ice Cream Company and sold ice creams from The Doddington Dairy in aid of Trekstock. Working in the music industry, Clare also connected Trekstock to Jake Bugg, the British singer-songwriter, who went on to design a fundraising t-shirt for the charity. These t-shirts allow Trekstock to keep delivering support to people in their 20s or 30s who have heard the words “it’s cancer”. To order a Jake Bugg t-shirt, visit the ‘Merch for Good’ website here.

Find out more about our wider Cancer Awareness work and how you can get involved.