Wellingborough cancer survivor and charity rower to fund exercise 'wonder drug' for patients
Amanda Baker wants to help other cancer patients
A Wellingborough cancer survivor is asking for other patients with the disease and its after effects to get in touch so she can help them with a funded exercise treatment programme.
Mum-of-two Amanda Baker was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and throughout her treatment felt unwell until her husband's physiotherapist suggested simple exercises could alleviate some symptoms.
The primary school teacher, who underwent a mastectomy, had many of her lymph nodes removed, a hysterectomy, and had radio and chemotherapy, is feeling healthy after taking up a keep fit and stretching regime.
So impressed by her exercises' transformative results, she has just completed a gruelling 100-mile row to raise funds for Cancer Rehab Works, a new charity to fund a physical treatment programme.
She said: "I need to be inundated by people so I can push to take it further to show that this is needed. I need people to reach out and ask for help.
"I survived cancer. I am grateful to be alive. I am one of the lucky ones. The treatment saved my life but it also changed my life, my health and my fitness forever.
"I battled with cancer. I battled with the side effects of treatment. I battled with the side effects on my body post treatment and I continue to battle with the side effects of ongoing medication which prevents the cancer returning.
"Very few patients in the UK are told about the positive impact of exercise on their health. Very few patients in the UK are told that exercise can improve their outcomes and relieve some of the side effects of the treatment.
"Specialist cancer rehabilitation is available in the UK. There are physiotherapists with a specialism in cancer prehab and rehab but it's not available through the NHS - it's only available to those fortunate enough to be able to pay for it. The NHS currently doesn't fund this 'wonder drug'."
Her 10-mile-a-day for 10 days marathon has raised nearly £5,000, the sum needed to kick start charity Cancer Rehab Works to fund the rehab of cancer patients, before, during and after treatment.
Inspired by her son Edward, a rower, she rowed 10 miles a day for ten consecutive days - the length of the River Nene.
As well as her taking on seven of the legs at home, Amanda completed one on the pitch at Franklin's Gardens home of the Northampton Saints, one at Northamptonshire County Cricket's HQ and one at Nene Court where Stronglines Physio is based.
She said: "Since I have been fortunate enough to receive treatment from one of these specialists, my life has changed, again.
"I still take medication but now I can walk down the stairs in the morning, I don't ache all the time, I can row. I haven't had a scan for two years. No more aches and pains equals no more precautionary scans equals no more cancer scares.
"I want this 'wonder drug' to be available to all patients.
"Cancer has touched everyone. You could help someone you know that is receiving treatment right now, you could also help someone you know that has survived to keep it that way.
"All the money I raise will fund the prehab and rehabilitation of as many cancer patients as possible. My aim is to fund specialist physiotherapy, bespoke exercise groups and access to gyms and sport clubs.
"By doing this, we can help cancer patients and enable them to restore their quality of life and give them the best chance of stopping the disease from returning."
Amanda has launched a petition to campaign for patients and cancer survivors to be given access to specialist, physical rehabilitation during and after their treatment.
She added: "In November 2020, Macmillan Cancer Research published an article 'Physical Activity and Cancer: the underrated wonder drug'. In it, they said that, 'supporting people to be physically active from diagnosis through to end of life has been called a ‘wonder drug’.'
"It is proven to reduce the side effects of treatment, improve outcomes and also improve the chances of survival. So surely this 'wonder drug' should be readily available to cancer patients.
"My story isn't unique, hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed and treated for cancer every year in the UK and they too face the same battles I did, and still do. They too are left with the scars of treatment.
"I'd like to thank KGH and NGH surgeons, nurses and oncology teams for saving my life - without question - and to thank Stronglines too for improving my quality of life post treatment."