Sussex family get Fit4Life to commemorate Mum

A local family have launched a brand new festival to support a new cancer centre in Sussex following the tragic loss of their mother to cancer. Liz Reid lost her battle with cancer in 2013 and her son Martin, a fitness and nutrition expert, was keen to find out more about the dietary and nutritional advice she received. After investigating and working with a number of cancer charities he was surprised to find out that the correct nutrition and a healthy diet can have a positive effect on certain types of cancer. Despite the tragic circumstances, Martin, his sister Eleanor and cousin Scott have decided to help others by promoting the information and helping others in the future.

Image 1 - Martin Hayman and his mum Liz Reid
Martin Hayman and his mum Liz Reid

2012 was a difficult time for the family in which they lost three close relatives within the space of a year. Following this, Martin’s mother Liz Reid, received a late diagnosis of severe cervical cancer and after a painful series of chemotherapy, she passed away in January 2013 just two months before her grandson was born. It was a terrible year and would have left some families in tatters but Martin, Scott, Eleanor and their family and friends knew they had to pull together to keep fighting for their mum. Straightaway they went to work, Eleanor set up a raffle at her mum’s wake in the local community pub raising over £2,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support, a support service who Mrs Reid was very fond of during her treatment. While Martin and Scott pushed forward with their idea of a fitness festival to raise awareness about a healthy diet and healthy living.

The Fit4Life Festival one-day event will be held at the Salts Recreation Ground in Seaford, East Sussex on Saturday 19th September. It is a fun charity day for all ages, focused around promoting active sports and healthy living, as well as raising money for The Macmillan Horizon Centre. The festival is being run by Martin’s company Focus Performance, an online sports nutrition provider, and being supported by Friday Ad.

Martin said, “The Fit4Life Festival is our way of doing something very positive for the people in our community after the loss of our mum. Raising the awareness of healthy living, nutrition and active sports to keep healthy for longer is also key to the message of Focus Performance who is sponsoring the event. Through fun and play we hope to educate all ages as well as raising money for the MacMillan Horizon Centre.”

With Focus Performance, Martin and Scott were already well versed in the world of nutrition and fitness and they wanted to raise awareness that poor diet can have just as dangerous long term effects as smoking.

Martin said, “Some cancer cells feed on sugar so diet is clearly important, not just for the fight against cancer but for the prevention of heart disease and diabetes too. One of the things that sticks in my mind about Mum’s treatment is that she received no dietary advice and I think this needs to change and people need to be advised better to its importance. The nutritional advice is out there but our goal is to make sure people know about it before being diagnosed.”

Some research has shown that being overweight and not eating enough fruit and vegetables could also increase your risk of cancer. Macmillan Cancer Support say research is being done to find out how food may affect the risk of cancer developing but there is still a lot of research to be done before anything conclusive is known for sure. Macmillan recommend speaking to a doctor or nurse for referral to a dietitian, who can advise about any changes needed in line with your treatment as different strains of cancer will all have different preventative needs. Macmillan have provided their own Oncology Dietician with East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust since 2011. The service provides expert dietary and nutritional advice to patients with head and neck and upper gastrointestinal cancers. In addition to this the Macmillan Oncology Dietician works with a Nutrition and Dietetics team, providing expert support, guidance and supervision for patients with all types of cancer to improve the quality of life for people across Sussex.

Sarah Coxhill, Senior Fundraising Manager for Macmillan Sussex, explained, “Nutrition, physical activity and a healthy lifestyle can make a huge difference to the prevention and or journey through cancer. Macmillan endeavour to ensure that no one faces cancer alone and that those families affected by cancer receive the full range of support and services they need. Eating a balanced diet is one of the best choices you can make for your overall health and it can also reduce the risk of new cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. We’re really excited about the Fit4Life Festival and very grateful to Martin and Focus Performance for creating such a positive event in aid of our new Macmillan Horizon Centre. The centre has been designed with direct input from people, like Martin, who have been affected by cancer and is set to open in Spring 2016 next to the Royal County Hospital. With support from the community and events like Fit4Life Macmillan can continue to provide vital services to anyone affected by cancer in Sussex. We couldn’t do it without you.”

Diabetes UK has warned that the number of people living with diabetes has soared by nearly 60% in the past decade, so it’s clear that it’s not just cancer which is the issue. Should even more emphasis be put on healthy lifestyle or what to and what not to eat when we are diagnosed with an illness? Chemotherapy and tumour removal surgery are what spring to mind when we talk about cancer prevention but should we place more holistic health requirements in the discussion around stopping cancer? Fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of different nutrients with properties that could make it more difficult for cancer to develop, reduce inflammations and improve the immune system which is why a better understanding of the ‘5 A Day Live Well’ programme is essential. With a better understanding of nutrition, would things have been different for the Hayman and Reid family and hundreds of other families across the world?

To be part of the Fit4Life Festival then head to http://www.fit4lifefestival.org/, share on social media and head down on Saturday, 19 September to learn more about healthy living and support the new Macmillan Horizon Centre for Sussex. ENDS