Michelle Mussell, health & wellbeing fitness instructor, is a familiar face to many at the Grimsby Health & Wellbeing Centre, supporting and encouraging many of our customers with medical conditions to benefit from the power-assisted equipment in the Wellness Hub.
What our members may not realise is that Michelle was once taking her first steps to recovery in the Wellness Hub, using the machines to improve her range of movement as well as re-building confidence and sense of wellbeing.
Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, Michelle had just completed chemotherapy and radiotherapy, when health professionals at the Pink Rose Suite referred her onto Lincs Inspire’s exercise referral scheme - Active Forever.
“They thought it would be good for me to come, just to help with my confidence,” said Michelle. “The trauma of what I’d gone through meant that I was terribly anxious; I wasn’t coping very well in the outside world, socially.
“Ian who was managing the hub at the time made contact. At first, I made excuses, and it took a few phone calls before I was persuaded to come in. I didn’t know what to expect, I was a bit scared, worried, and very anxious. But I was soon put at ease. I went through my induction, which was lovely, and I met a few people in there as well that had been through a similar situation to myself; I wasn’t alone.
I visited twice weekly at the same time as having counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder. I was also back at work but struggling. The only place I felt good, accepted, and normal was in the Hub.
I remember being asked in counselling, ‘what is your happy place?’, and I said, ‘the toning suite’ - as it was then called. As time went on, I started to feel a little bit more confident, was coping better socially, and at work. I enjoyed coming.Michelle Mussell Health & Wellbeing Instructor
It was towards the end of Michelle’s referral programme that she overheard Ian talking about some vacant instructor positions coming up in the Wellness Hub.
Michelle added: “I didn’t think anything of it, but I went home, and told my husband about the positions. He said, ‘why don’t you apply, you talk about the toners all the time’! I knew that I could do the job, and it’s where I wanted to be and so I decided to give it a go.”
Whilst Michele didn’t have all the qualifications required for the position at that time, she set about getting the qualifications required and is now an invaluable member of the health and wellbeing team.
Michelle said: “I applied for the position because I wanted to help people experience the same as what I had experienced in the hub. I went on to complete my Level 2 gym qualification, qualified as a Personal Trainer, and passed my Level 3 Exercise Referral. It was hard, especially when you’re struggling with the aftereffects of treatment, but it was what I wanted to do.
“When I look now at some referrals we get, they are just like my referral all those years ago - the same stage of breast cancer, the same treatment or similar anxiety troubles. I don’t tell everybody, but I will tell customers about my experience if I think it will help them.
“I’ve had a complete change of career because of having breast cancer! My family and friends are proud! This job continues to help me as much as it helps others. I knew I could make a difference.”
The Wellness Hub supports our most vulnerable users, those with long term health conditions and disabilities, who use the assisted equipment alongside tailored exercise programmes, delivered in partnership with health colleagues. It helps to change lives and in Michelle’s case, in more ways than one!
Now in remission Michelle continues to use the power assisted machines to control flare-ups due to suffering with lymphedema due to her lumpectomy surgery. We are sharing her story during Breast Cancer Awareness Month; to inspire others.
- Find out more about about Lincs Inspire’s Active Forever exercise referral programme.
- Visit the NHS website for further information about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and living with breast cancer.
- Find out more about The Pink Rose Suite - a dedicated breast unit at Grimsby’s Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital.