Beyond the Badge – Practitioner Profile: Kate Williams

Kate Williams Exercise for Cancer, Exercise Oncology, Exercise Physiology, Movement Against Cancer

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

Growing up I had a love of competitive sport and the way the body could be trained to facilitate performance.   3 years of an undergraduate degree came and went and I still didn’t really know exactly where I wanted to steer my career.  I started working in the fitness industry to get some more practical experience under my belt and realised the clients I really connected with weren’t the ones trying to improve their sporting ability, they were the ones with health issues. I did some further investigation and came across this Exercise Physiologist vocation (that I’d never heard of!) which sounded like the perfect way to combine two passions: exercise as medicine and helping people.

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

It’s got to be the high five moments – when the clients I’m fortunate enough to work with have a good result, tick off a goal or just do something they never thought they could.  There is so much admiration within me for what can be achieved by people who have been through or are facing the physical and emotional turmoil that is cancer; I find it inspiring on a daily basis.  There’s no doubt that working in the world of oncology comes with it’s challenges but those moments make the difficult days all worth it.

As I side note though I also love working in such a dynamic area where new research about the further potential of exercise as an adjuvant treatment continues to be produced.  I think the next decade is going to be a really exciting one for our industry!

What’s your own exercise routine look like?

I reluctantly started road cycling several years ago after it became clear my back wasn’t going to hold out with distance running for much longer.  7 years later I’m still in lycra every second day!  I aim for short rides during the week and longer one on the weekend (with at least one coffee stop!) when I have a bit more time.  In between I strength train 3 days a week and walk the dog.  I also like to start each day with some yoga but I try and fit in a dedicated yoga session once a week, for the way it helps me unwind mentally as much as physically.

What motivates you and challenges you to be active?

For me exercise is almost just like daily hygiene or brushing my teeth now; I don’t feel myself if I haven’t moved in some way.  I’m more content, clear headed and satisfied when I’ve completed my ride or workout.  Setting goals that keep me accountable has also been a definite strategy: A half marathon, the Peter Mac Ride to Conquer Cancer, the Oxfam Trailwalker, Around the Bay in a Day and a mini triathlon are all events I’m proud to say I’ve ticked off the list and have kept me training through long winters.

In terms of challenges it’s obviously gotten a bit harder with a little one around now, but I’ve just made sure to keep it a priority.  This means my first port of call when bub is asleep is to get on the indoor trainer or get my dumbbells out, and on work days I use my lunchbreak to hit the gym.  My clients will all know also that I’m really not fond of cold weather; which is where having indoor training options and good quality layers really helps.  No excuses!

How do you like to spend your time outside work?

With family, ideally down at the beach with the dog, at the market on weekend mornings or the park.  I also love dragging family and friends to sample the first rate food, wine and coffee spots Melbourne has to offer.  In quieter moments you’ll probably find me curled up with a book.

How is 2022 shaping up for you?

I spent most of last year on maternity leave so I’m really just enjoying being back in the clinic again! I feel incredibly grateful to have a balance of the best of both worlds – spending the majority of the week with the girls and continuing in a career I am passionate about. As a family we have recently moved and are contemplating house renovations, the plans of which are keeping me busy.  Professionally the team is working on ways to continue to optimise the program, both in terms of the services we offer to our current clients and reaching out further into the oncology world to advocate for exercise referrals for all cancer patients – watch this space!