Given the importance of physical activity for cancer survivors, this research aimed to understand the experiences of members of a cycling team led by cancer survivors. Thematic content analysis was employed to resolve major themes across three data sources: semi-structured interviews (N = 7), participant observation of two CVSA group rides (N = 15) and naturally-occurring data from team social media sites (123 posts).
Themes describing the data suggested that valued aspects of the group included a shared understanding of the cancer experience, the positive and health-focused setting, forming friendships based on shared experience, the informal nature of support, and the ability to improve and monitor their health by cycling. Other themes covered the choice of cycling, motivation, the group’s ongoing nature, support interactions, and cycling team identity. Further analysis of descriptive themes led to the development of two interpretive themes. ‘A unique combination of sport and support’ described the multi-layered benefits of the cycling team, which combines some benefits of a support group with the identity of a cycling group, and is potentially more appealing to cancer survivors (males in particular). ‘Survivorship on survivors’ terms’ encapsulated the various ways in which the cycling team enables cancer survivors to regain control over their lives in terms of their physical health, psychological health, support needs and identity.
Recommendations made for exercise groups for cancer survivors included: to consider cycling, an adaptable form of PA which could engage males; to maximise accessibility by catering for differing ability levels; to engage with members using social media; to frame exercise as potentially beneficial for cancer outcomes; to have the group led by cancer survivors; and to ensure ongoing participation with inclusive membership.