Cancer Connections

Beating Cancer in the Highlands ... This column is brought to you regularly by the Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee and is first published in the Lifestyle section of the Southern Highland News. It is designed to inform everybody of matters relating to cancer in our local community and the wider society. We aim to focus on local news, forthcoming events, services and other cancer issues.

Cancer Connections - January 2017

Monday, January 23, 2017

Southern Highlands Cancer Centre Trust Fund

The Trust Fund has recently made two substantial donations, both of which will greatly assist patients, their carers and families. $15,000 has been allocated for respite for carers, to be used by the Community Palliative Care team, and $5,000 goes to the Peter Coupland Fund, which is administered by the Southern Highlands branch of Can Assist. Anyone wishing to make a donation to the Southern Highlands Cancer Centre Trust Fund can find all the information they need under the ‘Local Services’ tab of this website.

Breast Cancer Clinical Trial
Associate Professor Stephen Della-Fiorentina, a foundation member of our committee, has announced that a new breast cancer clinical trial has commenced. The Southern Highlands Cancer Centre has started the trial for women with early stage 2 breast cancer that is hormone sensitive. The PALLAS study is available for women who have started antihormone treatment within the past 6 months. It is run by the ANZ Breast Cancer Trials Group and investigates a new drug, Palbociclib, and whether it is of added benefit to standard antihormone medications. If you are interested in participating, please contact the Cancer Centre on 48629470.

Cancer Services Directory 2017
In late March Southern Highland News will make available the 9th edition of our annual Southern Highlands Cancer Services Directory. The theme for this year’s booklet will be aspects of palliative care. This is certainly a topical issue here in the Southern Highlands as it is across NSW so it is timely that we inform readers about the role of palliative care for cancer patients. If you provide a service for cancer patients or carers and you would like to be given a free Directory listing for the very first time, please get in touch with me. Contact details below.

Healthy Lifestyle Program

Coming this year : a free program from Cancer Council NSW for cancer survivors, carers, partners and family. The face-to-face group sessions will be facilitated by a dietitian and exercise physiologist and involve 2 hours per week for 8 weeks. 

The Enriching Survivorship Program is made up of the following components:
  * Six sessions focus on exercise and nutrition to improve cancer health (ENRICH). These sessions are facilitated by an exercise physiologist/physiotherapist and a dietitian.
  * A yoga and mindfulness session introduces relaxation breathing techniques to help reduce stress and anxiety.
  * A peer support session provides practical information, discussion and ideas about how to adjust to the changes following cancer treatment.

A course will be held at Narellan in the Macarthur region on Saturdays, commencing on Feb. 11th, from 10am-12 noon.  

For full details and the schedule of where all sessions will be held, visit the Cancer Council NSW website at  Reservations are essential; telephone 1300 360 541 or email

Committee Changes
Some recent changes have occurred to the membership of our committee. After many years as our Minute Secretary, Narelle McKinnon has stepped down from the position but will remain a committee member and our minutes will now be taken by Margaret Mogg. Therese Harris has resigned from the committee after a long membership and, at our January meeting, we welcomed Bhish Rowjee, pharmacist from the Amcal Pharmacy in Springetts Arcade.

Coming Events
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. Feb. 28. RSVP Jo or Katie.
• Feb. is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month; Teal Ribbon Day will be on Feb. 24
• Can Assist meeting Feb. 9th, 10am, old Bowral Hospital
* Feel the March Charge. Walk or run, solo or team, for Cancer Council this March. See
• Mount Kosciuszko Challenge, March 18. A fundraiser by Rare Cancers Australia, this involves a climb from Thredbo to the summit. To register, visit
• “Bounce Forward” program will be held at SH Private Hospital, March 25-26. For information or a booking, contact Jo Pearson, Nursing Unit Manager, Cancer Centre 4862 9472.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - December 2016

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Cancer Council & IPTAAS accommodation help

In the October column, I mentioned the IPTAAS funding which some Southern Highlands cancer patients may be eligible for if they are required to travel out of the area for treatment. This Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme is a little complicated but a full two-page explanation of eligibility and how it works can be found on this website in the "News & Events" section.

This month I have room to say something about a related service now provided by Cancer Council NSW on the accommodation side of the equation. Cancer patients who qualify for travel assistance while they receive treatment may also be able to access IPTAAS accommodation support as well. Various subsidies are available, depending on whether the patient and carer are staying in private accommodation, a not-for-profit or a for-profit facility. To supplement this subsidy, Cancer Council NSW have forged a special arrangement with the ACCOR hotel group to provide a reduced tariff while patients are away from home. Since the ACCOR Group operates numerous hotels at different price points, there should be something to suit most people’s pocket. With the IPTAAS subsidy along with the reduced-rate tariff, this is a substantial help in defraying the costs of treatment away from home. To access these supports, patients should ring the Cancer Council NSW Information & Support line on 13 11 20 and also visit the Enable website at

Reporting on the Trust Fund event
Readers who saw in this column last month a notice of the Garden event for the Peter Coupland Trust Fund, or who attended on the day itself, will be pleased to learn just how successful it was.

Wonderfully sunny weather was the first sure omen for an enjoyable day. That was confirmed by the strong attendance of Peter's colleagues and friends, and their friends too, who responded to the opportunity to do something in his memory. All was further heightened by the wonderful teamwork which went into the organisation for the event. And that was finally capped off when we found what a lovely setting had been made available to us. The wonderful gardens at Greyleaves, where the fundraiser was held, were opened up to all by our generous hosts, Belinda and Paul Shanahan. Spread out across the shaded grounds, guests were treated to a range of delightful refreshments – in my opinion much more grand than the advertised "Devonshire tea". And towards the end of the day, we also had the privilege of viewing an adjoining garden, courtesy of Robyn Coupland, Peter's mother. Lead organiser, Naomi Bermingham, has told me that the event raised more than $3,000 which will all go to the Trust Fund established in Peter's memory.

Pictured above : the organisers of the event (L to R) Naomi, Michelle, Belinda and Jo preparing the special afternoon tea.

Season’s Greetings
To readers of this column we send our sincere best wishes for this holiday season. For those of you on your own cancer journey, we wish that you can maintain the quality of hope. For your family, carers and friends, we wish that you sustain your continuing level of support. For those who regularly step up to the plate with help and donations to cancer charities, we thank you on behalf of all those who benefit from your generosity. For those who simply like to keep up to date on cancer matters and learn of local cancer-related events, please keep reading in 2017.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - October 2016

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Do you know what IPTAAS is ?

No ? Well it’s an ugly acronym, so you’re forgiven. But IPTAAS is most important for Southern Highlands cancer patients who have to travel for treatment. It’s the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme paid for by NSW Health. It provides a transport and accommodation subsidy to help people cover some of the costs of visits to specialist medical treatment not available in their local area. As you would expect, conditions apply. Probably the most crucial one is that it is for patients who travel more than 100km (one way) from home to treatment or who travel more than 200km in total in one week. And there is a subsidy to help pay for accommodation while having to stay away from home in the treatment period. For an explanation of eligibility and how IPTAAS works, all the details are on this website : just click here.

GAPS needs volunteers
You may have heard of our GAPS service : the General and Practical Support program. Our volunteers visit cancer patients at home to provide assistance with shopping, driving them to medical appointments, light help in the home, or respite for a carer. There are currently opportunities for you to receive training by Cancer Council to become a GAPS volunteer. 
To find out more, telephone Sally on 42230205 or Joan on 0428681926.

“The Light Between Oceans” for Can Assist

Coming up on Thursday, November 10th is a screening of the movie “The Light Between Oceans” at the New Empire Cinema. With generous support from the cinema and from the FISH film group, this will be a fundraiser for the Southern Highlands branch of Can Assist and follows on from their most successful movie night when we saw “The Dressmaker”. Same format : 6 for 6.30pm with light refreshments when you arrive; lots of door prizes; and proceeds go to a most worthy cause. Details are on this website under our "News and Events" tab. Tickets are $25 and available from the cinema. But be quick – the last one sold out.

How appropriate is the Can Assist logo for a movie about a lighthouse keeper ?

November : Men’s Health Month
The popular series of talks on men’s health by local medical professionals is set to return this November. Organised again by the resourceful Tom Carroll, Secretary of WHAM, the series will be held in St Jude’s Church auditorium on four consecutive Thursdays, starting on Nov. 3rd at 6pm. You will find full program information on our committee’s website under the News and Events tab at or ring Tom on 0419482208.

Another amazing result
This year’s Southern Highlands Spring Auto Fair succeeded in raising $15,000 for the Southern Highlands Cancer Centre Trust Fund. Great work by Darren and Phil and all folk who participated.

Coming Events
• “Light the Night” for blood cancer patients, all October.
• Pink Ribbon Day will be Friday, Oct. 21, supporting women with breast or gynaecological cancer.
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group meet at SH Private Hospital, 10.30am, Oct. 25. RSVP Jo or Katie on 4862 9470
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, Oct. 26.

• Rare Cancer Australia’s Sick or Treat Charity Ball, Fri. Oct. 28 : visit RCA website at

• Cancer Council 7 Bridges walk, Sydney, Sun., Oct. 30
• Men’s Health Month talks begin at 6pm on Thurs. Nov. 3 at St Jude’s Church
• Can Assist meeting Nov. 10th, 10am, old Bowral Hospital.

• Can Assist movie “The Light Between Oceans” fundraiser, Empire Cinema, Nov. 10th, 6 for 6.30pm. Tickets $25 at the cinema. Click here for details.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - March 2015

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Progress on removing chemo co-payments
Following on from the announcement in this column last month of improvements to the Isolated Patient Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS), we now have a further health development in the NSW election campaign. The Labor Opposition has stated that, if elected to government, it will abolish all co-payments for chemotherapy treatment. This is another valuable reform because currently some patients have to make a co-payment at public hospitals each time they begin a new chemo treatment, yet other patients at different public hospitals are not required to pay at all. It is quite an anomaly. Mr Baird has stated that his Government is considering dropping the co-payment. It is hoped that the Liberal-Nationals will now give a firm commitment to match this improvement.

STOP PRESS : On Sunday, March 22, the Liberal Government has announced that they will remove the co-payments for chemotherapy required for treatment of cancer and for the drugs for treatment of HIV, hepatitis, cystic fibrosis and organ transplants as well. This brings to a successful conclusion the lengthy campaign by Cancer Council NSW and its advocates for an end to the anomaly.

Cancer Services Directory 2015
The material for this year’s Southern Highlands Cancer Services Directory has now been sent to the printers. Its focus will be what happens when there is a cancer diagnosis within a family and what help is available for families in that situation. This 2015 edition – our 7th one – will be a bumper issue because for the first time it will be combined with the Southern Highlands Health Guide to make a super-sized 56-page health booklet. It comes out on Wednesday, March 25th, free in that day’s Southern Highland News. Make sure you get your copy.

The March Charge
Since one in every three cancers can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle, Cancer Council has introduced “The March Charge” : to encourage the community to run all of the kilometres they can during the month of March, and raise money to aid cancer research, prevention programs and support services. So this March, enlist to push yourself at least 1/3 further or faster or harder than usual. Run all the kilometres you can and help obliterate cancer once and for all. Find out more at

Haematology services in the Southern Highlands

Did you know that, since last year, specialist haematology consultation services are available at the Southern Highlands Private Hospital, Bowral, on two days each month ? Dr Silvia Ling visits on the 1st Monday of each month and Dr Nicole Wong Doo visits on the 2nd Tuesday. Referrals can be made via the Haematology Department at Liverpool : telephone 8738 5167 or fax 8738 5176.

Bounce Forward ! 
The valuable initiative ‘Bounce Forward’ (previously called ‘Living Well’) is a two-day program which will be held at the Southern Highlands Private Hospital on Saturday and Sunday, 21st and 22nd March. To find out more or to make a booking, contact Jo Pearson, the Nursing Unit Manager at the Cancer Centre, on 4862 9472.

Coming Events
• ‘Bounce Forward’ program, Sat.-Sun., March 21-22. Details above.
• Cancer Services Directory free copy in SH News, Wed. March 25th
• National Smile Day inspired by Clown Doctors, April 1st
• Can Assist meeting, Thurs. April 9th, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - February 2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Greater support for regional patients

It was encouraging to learn of a commitment made by the NSW Liberal and National parties to implement further improvements to the IPTAAS scheme. This is the Isolated Patient Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme which provides assistance to those rural and regional patients who need to travel a long distance in NSW for medical treatment. The enhanced program being proposed would see an increase in the petrol subsidy, increases in the accommodation subsidy rates, and a reduction in the patient co-payment. Commitments were given that, if re-elected, the Government would also simplify the IPTAAS forms, make some further services eligible for claims, and make the claims process itself much easier for people to use. It is hoped that the State Opposition will give a similar undertaking to match these improvements.

Our Patron the Mayor

The Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee is very pleased to announce that the Mayor of Wingecarribee Shire, Duncan Gair, has accepted the position of Patron of the committee. In indicating his willingness to fulfill this role, the Mayor acknowledged that the Cancer Leadership Committee’s annual Cancer Services Directory is a very important publication assisting all those affected by cancer in our shire.

Cancer research

In a new study by Cancer Research UK, almost half the participants did not see their GP despite suffering cancer "alarm" warning signs. Commenting on the study, Professor Sandro Porceddu, a radiation oncologist and clinical advisor to Cancer Council Australia, says one in two Australians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. This is not meant as a scary statistic; it is not a cause for alarm so much as a call for awareness. "In Australia, we have one of the highest cancer survival rates in the world," Professor Porceddu says. "If detected early, we have a much greater chance of surviving." For instance, did you know that an Australian dies of melanoma every six hours. Every two and a half hours someone dies of bowel cancer, yet 90% of such deaths would have been prevented if detected early.

The conclusion from these findings is that, if you have a concern about a health problem which has not gone away, consult your GP. Early detection saves lives.

Bounce Forward !

The valuable initiative ‘Bounce Forward’ (previously called ‘Living Well’) is a two-day program which will be held at the Southern Highlands Private Hospital on Saturday and Sunday, 21st and 22nd March. To find out more or to make a booking, contact Jo Pearson, the Nursing Unit Manager at the Cancer Centre, on 4862 9472.

Cancer Services Directory 2015

Our material for this year’s edition of the Southern Highlands Directory is ready for publication. For this year our focus is going to centre on cancer within families and what help is available for families in that situation. A big change from previous years will see the booklet combined with the Southern Highlands Health Guide to make a super-sized health issue for 2015. Publication date will be Wednesday, March 25th with your free copy available in that day’s Southern Highland News. Don’t miss it. To place an advertisement in the new bumper booklet, please contact the News sales team on 4861 2333.

Coming Events

• February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Hold an “afternoon teal” in February to support Ovarian Cancer Australia. Their website is :

• Teal Ribbon Day, fundraising for ovarian cancer programs, is on Feb. 25th
• Can Assist meeting, Thurs. March. 12th, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital
• ‘Bounce Forward’ program, Sat.-Sun., March 21-22. Details above.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


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