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Project with the UC as partner earns over 2 million euros to support young cancer survivors

30 june
© UC | Marta Costa

Creating tools for the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and breaking the stigma associated with young cancer survivors are the main goals of the European project "Outdoor Against Cancer Connects Us". (OACCUs). The project – which includes the University of Coimbra (UC), gathers 14 partners from 6 European countries – has earned a funding of 2 493 100 euros in the framework of the EU4Health Programme, promoted by the European Commission to support projects in the healthcare area. The project started in June and is expected to be concluded until December 2023.

Focusing on the work developed with cancer survivors, the project intends to establish an active and solid network of youngsters affected by the disease, so that they may embrace and support their peers who are also facing cancer. This European initiative, coordinated by the University of Umeå, Sweden, gathers a multidisciplinary team with professionals from several areas: Sports, Medicine, Nursing, Education, Journalism, Sociology and Psychology.

Paula Tavares, professor at the Faculty of Sports Science and Physical Education of the University of Coimbra (FCDEFUC) and coordinator of the project in Portugal, explains that the OACCUs will focus in the four pillars of the project: “promotion of a healthy lifestyle through physical exercise, specifically outdoors; psychological and social well-being; healthy nutrition – eating as much unprocessed food as possible; and environment preservation, contributing to a healthy planet”.

Actions in these four areas will be implemented in a phased way, creating tools that will contribute to the promotion of a healthy lifestyle among cancer survivors, involving friends, family and society in general. The project will conclude with the training of ambassadors, who will support other survivors in the future, allowing "them to adopt healthier behaviours, especially physical exercise in contact with nature", adds Paula Tavares.

Paula Tavares

Paula Tavares

Besides this monitoring and training, the aim of the project is also to "find points that allow not only intervention in the population that suffers from the disease, but also to act in a preventive way through the practice of physical exercise and the implementation of the other pillars of a healthy life", emphasises the professor of the University of Coimbra.

In this context, "Outdoor Against Cancer Connects Us" also intends to "find tools to make society aware that someone who has survived cancer does not have a death sentence and can therefore enjoy a quality, healthy life", she adds.

In the future, the project also aims to support not only cancer survivors and the work of the 14 partner institutions, but also to encourage other young people and structures to use the information and tools developed to improve the quality of life of cancer survivors.

Other partners of “Outdoor Against Cancer Connects Us” are: Region Västerbotten and MotiMera Umeå Universitet (Sweden); Outdoor Against Cancer Gemeinnutzige Unternehmergesellschaft, ESV München e.V. (Germany); University of Patras and “Creative Thinking Development” (Greece); Università degli Studi di Palermo, Centro Internazionale per la Promozione dell'Educazione e lo Sviluppo Associazione, Lega Italiana per la Lotta Contro i Tumori - Sezione Provinciale di Palermo (Itália) and Universidad de Cádiz (Spain). The 14 participating entities have been working with people affected by this disease.

(In Portugal the project has the collaboration of the Children’s Hospital of the Coimbra Hospital and University Centre (Paediatric Oncology Service – Manuel Brito and Sónia Silva) and of the Portuguese League Against Cancer (LPCC). The other members of the project are FCDEF faculty members Beatriz Gomes, José Pedro Ferreira and Maria João Campos, Guiomar Oliveira, professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Coimbra (FMUC) and Director of the Paediatrics Department of the Coimbra Hospital and University Centre, Vítor Rodrigues, FMUC professor and current Chairman of the Centre Region Unit of the Portuguese League against Cancer, and Sónia Silva, LPCC Psychologist.)


Original news article in Portuguese: Catarina Ribeiro

English version: Diana Taborda