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 - February 2018

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Haematology services improved

Readers of this blog will know that our Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee, aided by good publicity in the Southern Highland News, has long advocated for an improvement to haematology services in our district. Having commenced our campaign way back in 2011, we can at last recognise that success has arrived. From January this year, public patients can now have a consultation with a specialist haematologist at the Cancer Centre within the Southern Highlands Private Hospital and, more importantly, public patients can now receive their treatment there as well. This is a most significant advance since previously they were required to travel to Liverpool for every treatment.


The successful outcome for uninsured patients would not have been achieved without the sustained backing of Prof Geoff Delaney, Director, Cancer Services, South West Sydney Local Health District. The initiative has also been progressed by collaboration between the Southern Highlands Private Hospital and the LHD, in particular through the work of Jenny Harper, CEO of the private hospital, and the support of Prof Stephen Della-Fiorentina, medical oncologist and member of our committee.


Can Assist fundraiser results
We are able to happily report on the most successful fundraising activity held recently by the Southern Highlands branch of Can Assist. The luncheon Sunday@Centennial was planned as their major fundraiser for the year. Along with its associated auction, raffle and donations, the whole event altogether raised just over $18,000 net. With 102 guests attending, and many more having purchased raffle tickets beforehand, the result is a record boost to Can Assist’s financial position. That amount will actually cover our local branch’s expenditure in support of patients for a little over 3 months. The encouraging result is a tribute to the efforts of Can Assist’s volunteers, donors and supporters.

Patient Transport for 10 years
The Cancer Council bus which takes Southern Highlands cancer patients up to Campbelltown and back each day has now been operating for 10 years. That is an enormous achievement considering that it has been operated the whole time by volunteer drivers. To celebrate this milestone, and also to acknowledge the retirement of Terry Liebmann, who has been one of the e drivers all through those years, a function will be held at Mittagong RSL at 2.30pm on Wednesday, February 28.

Mount Kosciuszko Challenge

Walking to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko has now become an annual event for supporters of the Rare Cancers Australia charity. Each year the initiative, founded by Bowral locals Kate and Richard Vines, has seen increased numbers join in the activity. This year’s participants will be gathering at Thredbo National Park, 8.00 am Saturday, March 17, with a target of $200,000. More information on the RCA website at www.rarecancers.org.au/. For registrations, which close on March 10, go to https://www.kosichallenge.com.au



The March Charge for Cancer Council
Also on the fitness theme : The March Charge is a fun personal fitness challenge. By walking or running for Cancer Council this March, and by raising funds, you can help them Charge ahead with cancer research, prevention, advocacy and support services. You can choose to go solo or get your friends, family, or colleagues together and do it as a team – it’s up to you! For all information, visit  https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/event/the-march-charge/

Coming Events
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. Feb 27 RSVP Katie
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, Wed. Feb 28
• “The March Charge” is on in March 2018. See item above.
• Can Assist Meeting at BDCU, Bowral, 10am, March 13
• Mount Kosciuszko Challenge for RCA, Sat. March 17. See item above.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee)
0407 234 780 or info@sh-cancerconnect.com.au


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Cancer Connections - November 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

“Murder can help patients”
A capacity audience at New Empire Cinemas on Nov. 9th watched the new movie version of "Murder on the Orient Express", directed by Kenneth Branagh. The event was a most successful fundraiser for the Southern Highlands branch of Can Assist and all attending were treated to a quality adaptation of the familiar classic. This version was helped greatly by a fantastic cast of murderers. (Among so many fine performances, I was particularly impressed by Michelle Pfeiffer’s and would not be surprised if she gets an Academy nomination for best supporting actress). The venture received marvellous support from the Cinema’s owners, from Films in the Southern Highlands (FISH), along with the generous donors of prizes and of course all those folk who attended. Secretary Terry Hughes has announced that over $6,000 was raised on the night. WOW ! This great result would not have been possible without the smooth organisation by Aurelia Grigore-Reid and her army of volunteers from Can Assist who do so much for cancer patients in our district.


Portacatheter insertion issue

Readers of this column would know that our committee has been pushing for a local solution to the problem of public patients having to travel all the way to Concord Hospital for the insertion of a portacatheter. At the recent Annual Public Meeting of the South Western Sydney Local Health District, I took up the matter with the LHD Chief Executive, Amanda Larkin. After expressing her surprise and disappointment that cancer patients were having to make that out-of-area journey, the CE promptly undertook to further investigate this matter. The full facts have now been conveyed to Ms Larkin, along with the details on what progress we have currently made in pressing the issue.  

I shall report on whether an acceptable solution is arrived at.



Killing liver cancer cells
Cancer Council Research reports : Australia has witnessed a significant rise in liver cancer rates in recent years, and this trend is expected to continue over the next few decades. Sadly, the chance of a person with liver cancer surviving for 5 years or more is just 16%, and this is largely because the cancer is able to resist current therapies. Professor Christopher Liddle from the University of Sydney has found that there is a group of cells in liver tumours called cancer stem cells. These cells initiate cancer growth and contribute to the spread of the tumour. Current therapies are not able to target these cells, explaining why liver cancers are so unresponsive to treatment. Christopher and his team have developed two agents that can seek out and bind to the liver cancer stem cells and kill them. The researchers are now testing the effectiveness of these agents in the lab to see just how powerful their anti-cancer capability is. Once the team proves the agents are successful, this will lay the foundation for clinical trials.

Reminders of events :
• The series of Men’s Health seminars proceeds this November, organised by Tom Carroll and WHAM. These information sessions are held at 6pm sharp every Tuesday in St Jude’s Auditorium, Bowral. For the full program, visit the ‘News & Events’ section of this website or call Tom on 0419482208.
• Cancer Council continues its series of webinars. (These are online seminars which you can watch on your computer or mobile device on the night or later at your convenience.) The next topic is “Men’s Psycho-social needs : What support do men need after cancer ?” on Nov. 30. Visit the Cancer Council website www.cancercouncil.com.au for full details.

Coming Events
• Men’s Health Forum continues this November, every Tuesday; see item above.
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, Nov 22.
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. Nov. 28 RSVP Katie
• Can Assist Meeting at BDCU, Bowral, 10am December 12

Grahame Hackett (Chair, Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee)
0407 234 780 or info@sh-cancerconnect.com.au



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