My involvement with cancer rehabilitation began after having family members diagnosed with cancer and thinking I’d like to help but I have no idea what I could offer them.

I had just finished my Pilates certification in 2011, when I saw an advertisement asking for physiotherapists to complete specialised training in order to offer rehabilitation for cancer survivors. The programme offered back then was known as PINK Pilates. This sounded like the perfect opportunity to combine my Pilates training with cancer rehabilitation.

After completing the course in 2012, I quickly learned that there was far more treatments to offer cancer survivors than just Pilates. Other services can include massage, joint mobility, sleep hygiene, relaxation, and breathing techniques as well as Pilates, strength training, or just a sounding board. The PINC programme aims to optimise physical and functional recovery; ease pain and muscular tension; help regain strength and mobility; increase energy levels; improve posture and core stability; maintain independence; shift focus from illness to wellness; and reclaim body confidence and control.

Research has shown that remaining physically active is a very important component in cancer recovery and effects of its treatment, so I do try to encourage some form of exercise for each person dependent on the individual’s interests. However, everyone’s situation is different. Running a marathon maybe more doable for someone who was highly active prior to their diagnosis, whereas walking a block maybe achievable for someone else. The PINK Pilates programme recognised that there was a greater range of treatments for cancer survivors that could be offered than just Pilates, so the founders rebranded the programme to the PINC programme.

Over the last five years, Accelerate Physiotherapy has grown its cancer rehabilitation therapies to include the Steel programme, which is a similar programme for males run by Lindsay Stephenson; a 365 survive to thrive journal; and the PINC Next Steps programme, which is a group exercise programme for women who have finished their main cancer treatments. The Next Steps programme combines Pilates, Yoga, relaxation, and cardiovascular exercise. Also this year, I will be completing my Lymphoedema training, to enable people with any Lymphoedema issues to be treated in the same clinic.

There are now 120 certified PINC and Steel cancer rehab physiotherapists working in 35 regions in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK. Accelerate Physiotherapy is the only practice to offer the cancer rehab programmes in the Southland region.

If you would like more information regarding any of the programmes or cancer rehabilitation, you can go to or ring Accelerate Physiotherapy on 2186583.

Alana Malcolm.