Dr Vicky Coyle delivers the 2019 Natalie Shipman Memorial Lecture at Chai

‘Exercise and Cancer Survivorship’ was the fascinating topic of Chai Cancer Care’s 29th annual Natalie Shipman Memorial Lecture at Chai’s flagship centre in Hendon.

The Keynote Speaker was Dr Vicky Coyle, Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Medical Oncology, Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, Queen’s University Belfast.

Chai Chairman, Louise Hager welcomed guests and spoke movingly about Natalie Shipman z’l, who passed away just before her eighth birthday and how she inspired Chai’s inception 29 years ago. She said: “it’s 29 years since Natalie passed away, having been diagnosed with a brain tumour. She was the catalyst and one of the driving forces that has resulted in Chai being what it is and doing what it does today. We never forget that personal touch that runs through the organisation and it’s a tribute to our Co-Founders, Susan Shipman and my mother Frances Winegarten z’l who instilled this from the very first day. These two women took their challenges and were determined that others wouldn’t have to go through what they did without the support of Chai.”

Dr Vicky Coyle covered a wealth of information whilst speaking about exercise and cancer survivorship. She explained that the guidelines for ‘well’ adults age 19-64 are, 150 minutes moderate intensity exercise a week or 75 minutes vigorous intensity exercise per week, plus two physical activities to improve muscle strength per week. Physical activity can be shown to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and vascular disease and improve physical function, bone density, blood pressure, sleep and psychological wellbeing. Dr Coyle also showed evidence from some papers that physical activity may improve outcomes, such as cancer recurrence for those who exercise after a diagnosis of breast or colorectal cancer. There is also evidence showing an overall beneficial effect on quality of life.

Her team is currently involved in a randomised controlled trial – CHALLENGE trial – a study of the impact of a physical activity program on disease free survival in patients with high risk stage II or stage III colon cancer, the outcome of which is awaited.

The general message was it is safe to exercise during and after cancer treatment and that guidelines currently available are for the general population.

Following the lecture, the audience took part in a lively Q&A session.