If you’ve been looking for some fighting spirit, it doesn’t come much better than Battle Cancer. Formed in 2017, this team-based fitness challenge has raised the heart rates of over 27,000 athletes of every ability, as well as vital funds for some amazing charities. Since its launch in Manchester, its events have gone global, racking up more than £2.4million for 50+ brilliant causes worldwide.
Now, we’re bringing the battle to Gymbox – teaming up to launch the next cycle of The Battle Cancer Program, a free, 12-week training cycle to start rebuilding the strength and fitness of cancer survivors, post-treatment. Starting in March, we can’t wait to show our support for such an important organisation. But for now, here’s founder Scott Britton with the full lowdown.
So Scott, for the uninitiated, can you tell me more about Battle Cancer? What exactly is it and how long has it been going
Battle Cancer is an organization that fundraises on a mass scale for cancer charities through functional fitness events.
We officially formed in 2017, with the first event held in Manchester. By 2019, we were hosting 6 events across the globe, reaching over 27,000 athletes and raising £2.4million for 50+ charities worldwide. These events ran alongside tours around America, running gym takeovers with our growing Battle Cancer team.
With the help of our partnerships, friends and supporters we have gone from strength to strength in the last couple of years, with the events becoming bigger and reaching more people.
We also developed our own registered charity, the Battle Cancer Program. This provides cancer survivors with a free, 12 week program to start rebuilding their strength and fitness post cancer treatment. We launched our first cycle of this in 2020, helping around 200 cancer survivors both in person and online
What made you decide to start Battle Cancer?
Battle Cancer was formed out of an accumulation of smaller individual fundraising events I had undertaken [after being motivated by] personal connections with cancer.
Growing up, I became more and more aware of cancer-related deaths and illnesses around me. Family members, colleagues, friends…the number only seemed to be growing. One in two people will be affected by cancer in their lifetime, either directly or by emotionally supporting a loved one. The figures are heart breaking.
In 2016, I decided I wanted to level up and push my fundraising to the next level. I started reaching out and talking to others. Pure Gym got onboard and together we took on the task of 'Raising the Titanic.’ People came together in gyms all over the country to lift the equivalent weight of the Titanic, together in one day. That’s 52,310 tons!
From this event, we raised £36,000 for MacMillan Cancer Support and the spark had been lit as to what could be possible.
As well as running charity events you also run the Battle Cancer Program. Can you tell me more about this?
The Battle Cancer Program is a free, 12 week, tailored and coached program for cancer survivors that aims to rebuild strength, fitness, mobility and confidence that may have been lost during treatment. It also aims to support and improve mental health and quality of life for anyone struggling since finishing their treatment.
After a lot of research and study, we found that a person's mental health is often under great strain when they finish treatment and have to resume 'normal' life. They have no support or routine after going through months, potentially years of appointments, treatment schedules, impending appointments, meetings etc. To be left to return to 'life as usual' when that [life] does not exist anymore can be incredibly overwhelming. Our program helps people connect with others who might be going through the same process and gives support and builds mental strength as well as physical.
When it comes to the physical side of things, we take each person's medical background and history and work with them to help them achieve any personal goals they may have. This could be hitting a bigger lift in the gym or getting the mobility to reach the top shelf again. This might seem simple to you or I, but after multiple surgeries, scar tissue and muscle wastage, [for cancer survivors] it can be a huge step to regaining their independence.
What have been some of your proudest moments as director of Battle Cancer
So many proud moments! But for me, I think one that stands out was Battle Cancer London 2021. After a very uncertain year with the pandemic, planning an event for 1,600 competitors in a huge venue space at London Olympia and knowing it could be shut down at any minute was nerve-wracking to say the least!
It felt like we hadn't been able to stop crossing our fingers and holding our breath for months. And then, on the day, seeing everyone come together for one purpose - seeing so many hands in the air when people were asked if they'd been affected by cancer - and then announcing that from just one event we’d managed to fundraise over a quarter of a million pounds for cancer charities…that was just phenomenal.
I think at that moment, every single person there felt proud to be a part of something that means so much to so many people. It made me feel like together, we can make a real difference.
Another proud moment of mine would be seeing the results come back from the first wave of the Battle Cancer Program. Some of the physical differences people experienced from start to finish included increasing a back squat weight by 1000%! 1000% in just 12 weeks! That’s incredible in itself, but what it represents is the body's ability to heal and the strength that can be gained from following a well designed program in a relatively short period of time. What that means to someone is the difference between having to rely on other people to get up and down, to walk up the stairs, to get out of bed, to becoming strong enough to get up off the floor without assistance. Being part of that process makes me really proud of what we've achieved as an organisation and I’m excited about what else is to come.
I hear you’re partnering with Gymbox for an event early this year. What exactly will this be and how can people get involved?
We are partnering up with Gymbox to run our next program, which is so exciting! Gymbox is a fantastic company and has helped us draw attention and spread the word about what we're doing, as well as supporting our events and bringing people into the program.
We will be launching the next cycle of the program in March and will be using several Gymbox venues. If you have been affected by cancer and have finished your treatment, you can register with us online at www.battlecancerprogram.com .
Now that events are finally back in full swing, what are some of your goals for Battle Cancer over the next few years?
I definitely have a few goals for 2022! First and foremost, we're aiming to run 12 events throughout the year in multiple countries. If we can break £700,000 with the fundraising events and takeovers [in 2022], that would tip us over £3 million raised for cancer charities
I'd also love to continue working with some of our fantastic partners and grow that connection to help bring people to use our combined services, and really push to make the Battle Cancer Program as accessible to as many people as possible.
Long term, I'd love to achieve my 3 year plan. This is to reach 50 events in 12 months all over the world and raise around £2-3million yearly for charity. With this, we could use our platform to help around 1,000 people each year and we’d really feel like we're having a positive effect.
Maybe the biggest thing for me is that we are working on a campaign to lobby the government for prescribed fitness as part of a recovery program post cancer treatment. I recently presented at the International Cancer Education Conference and spoke about the benefits of functional fitness as part of recovery and prevention, and we’re waiting on a submission at CrossFit Headquarters to work with someone who has campaigned for something similar in the USA
We’re hoping to get a petition into parliament and present an application in front of a parliament committee. It would definitely be my biggest achievement to be involved and act in policy change that could help millions of people worldwide.