62-year-old Gwilym Thomas from Stenson Fields was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016 and after two years of treatment is now in remission.  However, hormone therapy had left Gwilym one and half stone heavier, increasing his waist measurement from 38 to 44 inches.

“Overcoming cancer changed my outlook on life – I valued every day I was beating it.  Unfortunately the treatment really took its toll on my weight and fitness.  I’d puff and pant my way to just reach the end of my road.  My niece had been on Livewell to lose weight and she suggested I join.  Being new to Derby, I thought it might also be a good way to meet people.”

Gwilym made use of the Livewell service to start his weight loss journey, which helped him to manage the effects prostate cancer and its treatment had on his health and wellbeing. He’s  since been nominated as Livewell’s client of the month for October.

Seizing every opportunity

From joining, Gwilym embraced everything Livewell had to offer, losing 7% of his body weight in nine months to shed the pounds he’d put on and return to his former waist size.  He’s also reduced his blood pressure to a healthy level and is fitter than he’s ever been.

“My wife bought me a Fitbit so I used it to gradually build up my steps, updating Livewell every week and getting advice to set sensible goals.  I started out at 3000 steps a day, using the Livewell walks as a way to increase the distance as my fitness improved.  As the walks are open to everyone, my wife joins me twice a week and we enjoy chatting with others as we stroll.  I now do 10,000 or more steps every day.”

In addition, Gwilym attended/took part in:

  • Livewell’s weekly drop-ins: to keep his motivation going, get weighed and receive expert support from the advisor team.
  • Alvaston, Mackworth and Osmaston weekly walks: Gwilym also trained to be a walk leader to cover and support Livewell walks when needed.  He also joins a Nordic walking group at the weekend.
  • Escape Pain: an intense 5-week course for clients with knee and hip pain which supported Gwilym to rebuild his strength and muscle tone affected through the cancer treatment.
  • Lose Weight Feel Great: 8-week weight management course where Gwilym discovered ways to change his eating habits by learning about portion sizes, the Eatwell guide and mindful eating.
  • Advisor support: Gwilym stayed in touch with his advisor, Aimee, every week and benefitted from text and email support.
  • Gym sessions: once Gwilym felt more confident with his walking, he introduced regular gym sessions using a safe and tailored programme created by advisors.

Inspiring men to take action

With prostate cancer affecting 1 in 8 men, Gwilym is hoping that sharing his story might encourage more men to talk about it, ask questions and go to see their GP.  A healthy diet and regular physical activity may also lower men’s risk of getting prostate cancer and can also help sufferers to manage the effects of cancer and its treatment.

“I put off going to my doctor so my diagnosis came out of the blue. He said that if I’d left it just another month my outlook might be very different.  Awareness is getting better as celebrities like Rod Stewart, Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull are coming forwards with their stories but there’s still more to do.”

“Joining a service like Livewell, combined with the support I’ve received from the local Macmillan group has worked wonders for my weight, my fitness and my mind.”

Councillor Roy Webb, Cabinet Member for Adults, Health and Housing, said:

“The Livewell service is a nationally recognised award winning service, acting as a fantastic free resource for the people of Derby to take control of their health and wellbeing.

“It’s brilliant to see stories like Gwilym’s that highlight the best way of making use of all the help that’s available and the impact it can have on your life.”

Livewell offers a free 12-month weight loss programme for people registered to a Derby GP practice with a BMI of 30 or over (27.5 for people of South Asian origin).  To find out more and apply visit the Livewell website.

Find out more about prostate cancer on the Prostate Cancer UK website.