This week we introduce Mike Lynn, a recent LJMU postgraduate who is working closely with organisations such as Joshua Tree and Alder Hey hospital to try to fight for improvements in cancer after care nutrition and exercise in paediatric patients. From a young age, Mike had family connections with Liverpool and still loves taking time out to explore the city. He said: “Studying here made me see a totally different side to the city. After finishing a Sports Nutrition under-graduate degree at Edge Hill he went on to study a masters degree in Sports Nutrition at Liverpool John Moores.
Working with children and education is something I had never even considered, I chose the sports nutrition masters as that’s what I thought I wanted to do in the long run. It was just by chance I got an email from my tutor asking if I was interested in doing some volunteering at FitFest, which was ran by the university, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and The Joshua Tree Foundation, a charity that supports families with childhood cancer. The children there inspired me because of how happy they are, even after all they had been through.”
Speaking about why he got involved with his research, Mike explained: “When I started to work with Alder Hey hospital surrounding aftercare for children who had beaten cancer, I noticed that there aren't many guidelines or aftercare put in place in regards to nutrition and exercise. Children have very intense chemotherapy and then when they have fortunately beaten the illness, are allowed to leave. However, at no fault of the hospitals, there isn’t any sustainable nutritional aftercare, research or resources available. Children with cancer can develop illnesses such as diabetes or osteoporosis, and they don’t know what proper nutrients or foods to consume post-chemotherapy that will benefit them and reduce the long-term impacts of those illnesses.”
Talking about his journey through LJMU, Mike thinks it is important that students know that the degree they study as and undergraduate or even a postgraduate does not entirely determine their future. Although he still does nutritional work with his local rugby team, his main goal for the future is to introduce guidelines on cancer aftercare nutrition and exercise for children. He said: “The children have already been through so much at such a young age and have their whole life ahead of them, I want to make sure they can live that life to the fullest and not be impacted as much by the post-cancer side effects.”
As well as working with multiple organisations, at the end of last year, Mike took part on a free weekly entrepreneurship course that is provided to LJMU students past and present. From this, he was inspired to start his own business and nutritional programme, ‘Nurture’. Starting in June 2019, he is travelling around primary schools in the UK where he is hosting workshops for children to be educated on the importance of nutrition. He will also show them how to make nutritionally beneficial recipes to encourage them to change their thought process on what can have nutritional value and help them through the day.
Mike’s next steps are to seize the opportunities offered at LJMU and put forward a proposal for a PHD to research paediatric nutrition and exercise aftercare further and hopefully create new guidelines to be used in Liverpool and eventually, across the globe. His aim is to act locally, impact globally.
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