Beyond The Badge – Practitioner Profile: Jess Dickson

Kate Williams Cancer and Exercise, Exercise for Cancer, Exercise Oncology, Exercise Physiology, Movement Against Cancer, News, Physical Function, Side Effects

Take us down the path that led you to become an EP?

When I was in my last years of high school, my Mum was diagnosed with both breast and bowel cancer. She spent several weeks away from home having treatment (we grew up in the country ~two hours away from any major hospital). Once she returned, she had deconditioned so drastically, she could barely get up the stairs of our two story home. We had very little assistance to get her conditioning back, and it was a really slow process for her.  I had always been an avid gym-goer, and I knew right away that there had to be something more to offer her in terms of getting her back to her pre-diagnosis self.  Through this, I finally discovered Exercise Physiology and knew it was what I wanted to do straight away and have loved it ever since!

What’s the best thing about working in Exercise Oncology?

The people! There is nothing better than helping people take control of their health and treatment, while they go through some of their hardest times. I’ve seen firsthand how challenging cancer treatment can be on people both physically and mentally, so to try to be a positive aspect to people’s treatment is so rewarding.  Overall though, the best thing is to make a tangible change to the lives of people living with cancer; whether that’s dealing with the side effects of treatment, or getting them back living their best lives despite their diagnosis. 

What’s your own exercise routine look like? 

I’ve been a gym-goer for the last 12 years; I try to do this 2-3 times a week.  I also work with a trainer once a week on my biomechanics and form to reduce my risk of future injury.  I have a tennis lesson once a week with a group of friends and I love spending the weekend hiking and exploring new places in Victoria.  I also love running, and do this with a big group of friends who have run a few half-marathons together! 

What motivates you and challenges you to be active?

Easily the best way to get your exercise done is with friends or some social support. It’s always much easier getting to the gym if you have other people relying on you, especially on those days you don’t want to get out of bed. I also love the way exercising makes me feel, even if it’s just an easy walk, I never regret moving my body. I’ve had back issues for most of my life, and this will always flare up when I’m too busy to get any exercise in.  Like anyone I can have days (or weeks) where I can’t be bothered to exercise or go to the gym, so I make sure I put plans in place to get something done. That could be a walk with a girlfriend, or booking in a yoga class. 

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

I’ve got a very busy social life; most of my weekends are spent with friends and family, seeing live music, eating out at restaurants or trying out new wine bars. My family are from Lakes Entrance, so we love traveling home, or to my partners holiday house in Phillip Island.  We also do a lot of hiking and exploring regional Victorian areas.  I’m an avid Collingwood fan, so my winter revolves around football.  I love reading, so I have a monthly book club with my girlfriends. And I’ve recently taken up sewing, which I’ve been teaching myself from Youtube to make my own clothes. 

How is 2024 shaping up for you?

2024 is looking like it’ll be a big year! I’m in the process of buying a house with my boyfriend Tom, and we have a family holiday in September in Italy. A lot of my friends are also getting married, so we have lots of weddings to attend, some of which I’ll be in the bridal party, which also means I’ll be busy planning the hens.  This is also a big year for my friendship group as it’s the year of 30th, so lots to celebrate! I’ve recently just become an aunty, so I’m enjoying taking on that role and spending as much time with my nephew as possible.