Penny Brohn UK

Help change life with cancer. For good

Pat’s story

Pat started Nordic walking after her treatment for breast cancer.

It was not only good for my health and wellbeing but it lifted my spirits.


I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2011. I had a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone tablets. I tried to keep positive throughout but I felt wrecked much of the time. Sometimes it was an effort just to walk to the bathroom. Moving my arm was difficult because I had had lymph nodes removed. I was also in constant pain from nerve damage to my arm.

I heard about the Nordic walking group that Penny Brohn offered through the Bristol Haematology & Oncology Centre and I came to my first session in January 2012 whilst still undergoing treatment. I did not know what to expect but I wanted to start to build some type of physical activity into my life and I liked the sound of Nordic walking.

Vicky Welsh (the Nordic walking instructor at Penny Brohn UK) gave me a brief explanation of how Nordic walking works and what I could expect from the walk, sorting out the right height of poles for me and putting me at my ease.  Another beginner was there and Vicky took us into the grounds at Penny Brohn to teach us the basic Nordic walking technique, before walking to a nearby park.

Although it is based entirely on your normal walking pattern I had to concentrate very hard on how I did actually walk and the time went by in a flash. Being outside and focusing on something other than my cancer was a wonderful distraction.

I found that Nordic walking in and around Penny Brohn Centre helped me on the road to getting fit, feeling healthy, getting outdoors and really taking time to look at nature and appreciate the small things in life - like simply feeling the wind on my face.

It was not only good for my health and wellbeing but it lifted my spirits. I really enjoyed the social side, just meeting other people dealing with cancer, sharing our concerns and cancer journey and how we were coping with side effects of treatment.

I really looked forward to our walks on Tuesdays and, now that I have returned to work, I still keep Nordic walking, joining another group that Vicky runs on The Downs as well as more challenging walks in Ashton Court and Blaise Castle. I am still walking 2/3 times a week and have more energy now that I ever did prior to having cancer. I have made lots of new friends from Nordic walking and it’s a really fun way to exercise, socialise and generally keep healthy and positive.

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