A walking journey through cancer recovery inspires co-workers to walk more!
Walking has always been an important part of Olwen’s life, but after her second breast cancer diagnosis in 2018, it took a pivotal place in her journey towards recovery.
Olwen is an Evidence Specialist (Librarian) at St Peter’s Hospital in Surrey. We met her as part of our walking initiative for workplaces – Walking Works. We’ve been inspired by her journey and passion for walking at work, supporting our walking message and enthusing her colleagues.
Walking is something that Olwen has always enjoyed. With her family, Olwen regularly takes time out to walk at weekends. Walking became more important to Olwen after receiving her second diagnosis of breast cancer in 2018. Olwen underwent a double mastectomy, and then had chemotherapy every week for three months.
As part of her recovery and to help her with her rheumatoid arthritis, she set herself small walking targets that could be done each day e.g. finding a nice route to walk to her local post box.
“Walking definitely helps me physically, but it also really helps me mentally. When I walk, my thoughts just float around me. I can let them be or I can explore them – and I get some great ideas!”
The first time we met Olwen was when Jonny Ray, our Project Coordinator (Surrey) ran a pledge event for the kick-off of Walking Works at St Peter’s hospital.
We undertook an initial consultation with a committee of staff to create a bespoke offer, tailored to the Trust’s need. From the consultation, there were a series of initiatives identified to enhance the opportunity for staff to walk. These were: pledge events to interact with staff and promote walking and its benefits; recceing routes around both hospital sites and creating bespoke walking maps; and finally, holding Walk Champion training to get a number of staff on each site trained to both lead walks and promote walking.
Olwen joined our Walking Champion training, taking her passion for walking with colleagues to the next level.
Olwen told us:
“I have found walking to be so beneficial and I wanted to encourage others to benefit from it – both physically and mentally. But also, it is a great social opportunity. I work largely on my own at my computer, so being able to meet someone to walk with on my break is great.”
Now that lockdown restrictions are easing, and non-clinical staff are returning to their respective hospitals, Olwen and her colleagues thought it a good time to kick-start the Walk Champion group with a WhatsApp group, and utilise the training with the aim of encouraging people to take a break and go for a walk. “It will be a good way of bringing teams together a lot more, after some people have been remote-working, and others haven’t. It’ll give people the chance to reconnect.”
Living Streets will continue to work with Ashford & St Peter’s NHS Foundation Trust to help move walking up their health and wellbeing agenda. Olwen said, “It’s great having an external organisation, dedicated to walking, who have all the facts and benefits of walking as it focuses your mind. And getting the Walk Champion training, and all coming together to see how it can work has been great!”
In the meantime, Olwen continues inspiring us and her colleagues while sharing her experience of walking at work. Olwen’s goal is to raise awareness within her direct team, as well as continuing to use Twitter to promote walks and communicate their benefits. She says, “I’ll be putting myself out there as someone who enjoys walking, and hopefully everyone will follow suit.”