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CancerSep 12, 2023

Keep pace with Olympian Sally Gunnell and become an ambassador for Cancer Support UK

Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell Champion has joined Cancer Support UK as a Workplace Cancer Support Ambassador – and the charity is keen for physiotherapists to follow her lead.

Sally said the training she received in order to become an ambassador was ‘invaluable’, giving her a ‘more profound knowledge of the physical and mental effects of cancer’.

‘It also equips me with the confidence to talk to a wide range of audiences about the importance of providing the right levels of support for cancer patients in the workplace,' she noted

Sally attributes her sporting success – which came to a peak in 1992 in Barcelona when she struck Olympic gold in the 400 metres hurdles event – to having a ‘hard-working ethos and a positive mindset’. Sally become a familiar figure on TV programmes after retiring from athletics, and now runs corporate wellbeing programmes and supports a range of healthy and active family initiatives.

Photo Credit: Cancer Support UK
Sally gained a 'more profound knowledge of the physical and mental effects of cancer'

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A spokesperson for the charity said applications from physiotherapists would be most welcome – not least because none currently holds that role. ‘Our Cancer Coach service has helped thousands of individuals who needed some emotional support following cancer treatment.

‘More than half (55 per cent) of our Cancer Coach participants said they wanted more support regarding a return to work. This feedback shows that there is a huge opportunity for every organisation to do more to help the increasing numbers of people affected by cancer who want to remain or return to the workplace.

'This is why we have started to train 10,000 Workplace Cancer Support Ambassadors, working with innovative businesses who are committed to making a positive difference.'

What does a Workplace Cancer Support Ambassador do? 'It's someone within an organisation who is trained to support colleagues who are experiencing cancer. This could be someone at any stage of their cancer journey,' the spokesperson told PhysioUpdate.

Ambassadors can offer support to people who are

  • coming to terms with a recent personal diagnosis
  • currently receiving treatment
  • in the post-treatment stage
  • receiving palliative care

You will need to attend and complete the training provided by Cancer Support UK and will receive a certificate on completion of the course. Prior knowledge, or experience, of supporting people with cancer is not a requirement for the role, as you will be trained in these areas.

No one should have to face cancer alone and we are immensely grateful to Sally for agreeing to help us raise greater awareness of our services and the help that is available [Mark Guymer]

The Workplace Cancer Support Ambassador training is designed to

  • give you a foundation in understanding how cancer develops, common treatments and side effects
  • teach you skills to enable you to have supportive workplace conversations
  • equip you with tools for self-care and handling emotion
  • provide you with a clear plan for how to perform the role within your workplace

Mark Guymer, chief executive at Cancer Support UK, said: ‘No one should have to face cancer alone and we are immensely grateful to Sally for agreeing to help us raise greater awareness of our services and the help that is available for those impacted by cancer.’

For more information or to book a place on one of the Workplace Cancer Support Ambassador training courses, email: training@cancersupportuk.org

For more information about the training, click 

Author: Ian A McMillan
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