Cancer Recovery

The courage to shine


University of Canberra researchers are working in collaboration with the Canberra Hospital’s Oncology Unit and ICON Cancer Centre to research cancer recovery and life after cancer for patients and their loved ones.

The PACES (pre-habilitation, activity, cancer, exercise and survivorship) research group came together in early 2019 and consists of academics at the University of Canberra who are passionate about conducting research in oncology.

The research is a multi-disciplinary approach to improvement for not only the person with cancer, but their loved ones too.

The program investigates the effect of exercise on cancer patients and those living post-cancer. Exercise classes tailored for the individual have been held for cancer survivors, people going through cancer treatment and people living post-treatment seeking to improve their strength and fitness.

The classes are in high demand, indicating an area of need within the community. Results have been positive for patients with a wide variety of cancers: from breast, to bowel and prostate cancer. People with any type of cancer can be referred or can self-refer into the program.

The PACES group aims to improve overall health outcomes and reduce the risk of developing other chronic conditions as a result of cancer (particularly cardiovascular disease) through exercise.

"The benefits are incredible. Patients are building their strength back up, they are able to complete their chemotherapy and their treatment much easier if they’re fitter and stronger".

100 per cent of funds raised go directly to the University of Canberra Cancer Research & Recovery Fund.

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I came to nursing to make a meaningful difference to what matters most to people affected by cancer, and most importantly, the areas in which they are in most need of support and intervention.

Catherine Paterson Ph.D
PACES Researcher and Clinical Assistant Professor Ph.D,
(All Distinctions: BA, MSc, PgCert LTA, FHEA, Non-medical prescriber, RAN)

The benefits are incredible. Patients are building their strength back up, they are able to complete their chemotherapy and their treatment much easier if they’re fitter and stronger.

Dr Kellie Toohey
PACES Researcher and Clinical Assistant Professor,
University of Canberra

I have seen the referrals for patients with a diagnosis of cancer increase by more than 4000 per cent in four years in our department. It’s amazing to see the uptake in this group. I want to ensure that all patients have access to the expertise of an Exercise Physiologist.

Rebecca Cesnik
Higher Degree by Research academic
University of Canberra

Leading the world’s research into cancer care

The University of Canberra’s PACES research group focusses their research activity on three distinct themes: prehabilitation, physical activity in people affected by cancer and survivorship (life beyond cancer).

The group was established in 2019 and consists of a mixed group of clinical and academic healthcare professionals and a group of researchers working across each area.

At it’s core, PACES focuses on:

  • prehabilitation in breast and prostate cancer
  • nutrition and physical activity
  • prehabilitation in breast and prostate cancer
  • nutrition and physical activity
  • physical Activity during chemotherapy
  • supportive care
  • lymphoedema pathways
  • less common and rare cancers
  • nutraceuticals in cancer
  • mental health and social well-being during and post chemotherapy
  • digital health and assistive technology.

Research projects

Explore some current reasearch projects.

  • Investigating various aspects of prostate cancer specifically regarding the impact of radical prostatectomy, expected outcomes, influence on incontinence and quality of life.
  • What are the experiences and unmet needs of people affected by chemotherapy induced alopecia?
  • Evaluating and increasing physical activity of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
  • Use of honey as a treatment of oral mucositis for oncology patients.
  • Risk Assessment, Prediction and Prevention of Venous Thromboembolism in Ambulatory Cancer Patients with Solid Tumours.
  • Predictors of risk and prognosis of venous thromboembolism in patients with Upper Gastro-intestinal cancer and lung cancer in Australian Capital Territory.
  • The feasibility and impact of light resistance-based exercise during chemotherapy infusion.
  • The impact of exercise counselling and education on patients with primary and secondary ovarian cancer.
  • Does exercise dose reduce the development of osteoporosis and sarcopenia in prostate cancer patients undergoing androgen deprivation therapy (ADT).

Why the research matters

So far, the program has seen some amazing results.

  • Over 500 patients successfully complete the program.
  • Increase in treatment success rates for patients.
  • Increase in mental health during and after treatment.
  • A reduction of side effects such as bone loss, pain, fatigue, cardiovascular and respiratory issues.
  • Improved chemotherapy completion rates.
  • Improved peripheral neuropathies.
  • Improved prognosis.
  • Decreased recurrence.
  • Improved mortality rates.

Your support is vital

The cancer recovery program is provided by University of Canberra staff and students. Participants make a $400 contribution towards the cost of the program. The actual cost is $1500 (each) for the 16-week program, with the gap being paid for by the University.

The University plans to continue to subsidise the full cost of the program for as many people as possible in the future, but can only do so with your generous support.

Additional funding will also be used to engage PhD and Honours students who contribute greatly to the program.

Our goal is to ensure the cancer recovery program is seen as an important part of cancer treatment, becomes available nationally, and is fully funded for those who need it.

100 per cent of funds raised go directly to the University of Canberra Cancer Research and Recovery Fund.

Donate today

Our experts

Dr Kellie Toohey

Exercise Physiology, physical activity, survivorship, chronic disease, rehabilitation, prehabilitation

Research profile

Professor Nick Brown

Movement analysis and motor control

Research profile

Associate Professor Catherine Paterson

Oncology nursing, chronic disease, prehabilitation

Research profile

Professor Karen Strickland

Oncology nursing, chronic disease, health services, digital health

Research profile

Dr Irmina Nahon

Pelvic floor, prostate cancer, rehabilitation

Research profile

Dr Jane Kellett

Oncology palliative care, nutrition and dietetics

Research profile

Dr Reza Mortazavi

Diagnostic pathology, haematology and blood transfusion, thromboemolism

Research profile

Professor Stuart Semple

Physical activity, CVD, exercise, immunology

Research profile

Associate Professor Andrew McKune

Stress physiology, immunology and bioenergetics in adaptation to exercise in cancer stress responses

Research profile

Associate Professor Rachel Bacon

Clinical education and community research, dietetics

Research profile

Professor Desmond Yip (Adjunct)

Development of biological agents in cancer, renal cell carcinoma and GI cancers

Research profile

Make a donation

100 per cent of funds raised go directly to the
University of Canberra Cancer Research & Recovery Fund.

Get in touch

Contact the UC Foundation to
find out more.

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