A new project is to be introduced to help improve fitness among local people going through a cancer diagnosis or treatment.
Diarmaid McAuley presented details of the new MacMillan ‘Move More’ Derry and Strabane project at the council’s Health and Community Committee meeting last week.
Mr. McAuley said the project has been developed in partnership with Derry City & Strabane District Council and the Western Trust, will be co-ordinated from the Foyle Arena, and begins in April.
He said MacMillan have provided £120,000 for the project for the next three years and people can self-refer or be referred by a GP or other health professional to the local co-ordinator.
“We will support that person to get active in something that is suitable for them,” he said. He added that this could take the form of exercise in the home or garden, gym membership, or getting people into a sport they had previously enjoyed, with the council coming onboard to offer free taster sessions and discounted memberships.
He said research had shown physical activity can reduce the likelihood of cancer, and of cancer reoccurring.
Guidelines showed people with cancer should try to be active for 150 minutes of moderate intensity per week, but 77 per cent of people with cancer were not active enough.
Mr. McCauley said number of people living with cancer in Derry & Strabane is over 4,000 out of a population of around 150,000 people.
The number of people estimated to be living with cancer in the council area however is expected to jump to 6,900 by 2030.
He said: “By 2020 almost one in two people is going to have a cancer diagnosis to deal with at some point.
“There is good news as well, people are living much longer and treatments are improving.”
DUP Alderman Hilary McClintock said: “I didn’t realise the importance of exercise and movement both during and after diagnosis and treatment.”
Sinn Fein Colr. Christopher Jackson said MacMillan has been a “lifeline” for many people diagnosed with cancer.
“I’m encouraged to know that holistic approach is in place,” he said. “I have no doubt that these people will be supported in every way to give themselves the best chance to beat this terrible disease.”