Smiling couple on holiday

A fitness fan who completed the London Marathon whilst battling cancer has praised Treetops, whose online exercise programme has made her ‘feel good again’.

Etwall mum-of-two Kate Belfield (55) was diagnosed with primary breast cancer in 2014 and after receiving treatment, doctors told her that her prognosis was good.

However, just a couple of years later, Kate was told that she had secondary breast cancer, which had spread to her bones.

Kate, who was forced to take early retirement from her job working for the Home Library Services in Derbyshire, says that Treetops ‘Move It To Strengthen It’ programme has helped her both physically and mentally.

The classes have been so good for me – a good morale boost

“I used to do a lot of exercise,” said Kate, who has been shielding during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Men and women running the London Marathon

Kate running the London Marathon

“I ran the London Marathon in 2017 in just over five hours. It was an amazing experience – very tiring and the training was tough – but it was such an experience. However, I had what I thought was a knee injury and had to walk the final mile or so, because I was in so much pain; I believe now that it was probably referred pain from the cancer in my hip but obviously I didn’t know this at the time.

The diagnosis knocked me for six

“The diagnosis knocked me for six because it forced me to stop doing what I loved doing. That’s why the ‘Move It To Strengthen It’ classes have been so good for me; my stamina has improved and my balance is a lot better. It has been a good morale boost for me and helps me both physically and mentally.”

Kate initially took part in Treetops ‘Move It To Improve It’ sessions, which aim to get patients moving and promote independence. The ‘Move It To Strengthen It’ initiative is targeted at those people, like Kate, who are more agile and are looking to increase balance and strength.

Since March, Treetops has been unable to have patients on site, meaning that classes have taken place virtually with support from staff members Clare Downing and Nat Schofield, who assist those who are unfamiliar with technology to ensure they can still take part.

Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund logoThe exercise classes, part of Treetops ‘Cake and Care’ programme, have been made possible through funding from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund with thanks to the Government.

After each class there is the option to join a guided meditation and relaxation session. This session is open to all patients including those who wish to join but have not attended the exercise class.

It helps with my motivation and makes me feel so much better

Family hugging

Kate greets family at end of the London Marathon

Kate added: “’Move It To Strengthen It’ is definitely more active and it was a great morale boost for me to know that Treetops appreciated that I could perhaps do a little more.

“Some of the exercises I do are things which I used to do in the gym and having the class at a set time every week means that I have to get up and out of bed in the morning; it helps with my motivation and makes me feel so much better, being able to exercise.

“It’s also great to see the people who I used to see at Treetops before lockdown, even if it’s only briefly. You do get the feeling that you’re in the room together.”


Kate, whose grown-up children live in Jersey and Hilton, has also received Treetops Cake and Care packages including treats and craft activities, alongside regular wellbeing calls.

Treetops is a place to go where you can just be yourself

She said: “It was very surprising to receive the thoughtful package, I wasn’t expecting anything like it at all, it just goes to show someone is thinking of you. It’s been like a ray of sunshine.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Treetops; I have made a few very good friends – some who are sadly no longer with us – and Treetops is a place to go where you can just be yourself. You can talk about your diagnosis – or not. You know that you’re all in the same or similar situations and people just ‘get it’.

“All the staff are lovely and genuinely interested in how I am doing, how I feel. My husband has been a tower of strength but it’s lovely to have contact with the outside world from people who understand me whilst I’ve been shielding.”

It’s the best thing ever for me

Meanwhile, 62-year-old Rosemary Phillips, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2008, has been shielding throughout the pandemic, with just carers visiting her home in Heanor.

Rosemary, who has been married to husband Gene for almost 40 years, takes part in the weekly ‘Move It To Improve It’ chair-based exercise classes. She said: “The classes are very good and I really enjoy them. They’re a good laugh and I’m building up the muscles in my arms, so it’s the best thing ever for me, plus Nat and Clare are lovely.

“I used to come to Treetops to visit the Wellbeing Space and, occasionally, I’ve been there for a spa day. I really miss it and I’m looking forward to visiting and having a lovely lunch in the Wellbeing Café when the Coronavirus pandemic is over.”

It lets patients know we’re still here for them

Clare Downing, who helps to deliver the sessions, said: “The virtual sessions give our patients one-to-one contact, they can see other people on the screen who they used to meet with so it gives that familiarity, but most importantly it means they’re not so secluded and isolated. Mentally and physically it’s the way forward until things change.

“It’s really important for us as well to offer this service, as it lets patients know we’re still here for them. The exercise classes allow them to stay mobile and remain active and independent, so they can continue to do everyday things like make a cup of tea.

“It’s been very hard without our patients here on site, we miss them. We’ve always tried to stay positive and keep in regular contact. Suddenly going from an environment that’s noisy, giggly, fun and busy to nothing left a great big hole for us – and our patients. But we’re trying to close that hole with technology, which is a massive step forward.”

For further information about Wellbeing Services, please contact the Wellbeing Team on wellbeing@treetopshospice.org.uk or call 0115 949 1264.

Treetops is doing all it can to continue to support those in most need. The hospice welcomes donations to ensure the future of the hospice and its services. Donations can be made at www.treetopshospice.org.uk/donate