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 - 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 - November 2016

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Advances in Palliative Care
Last month our committee was most fortunate to have a meeting with Janeane Harlum, the Area Palliative Care Manager for South Western Sydney Local Health District (SWSLHD) of which the Wingecarribee is a part. Janeane gave us an informative talk about the PEACH program. This stands for Palliative Extended Aged Care in the Home and the PEACH packages are designed to provide clinical care and support for people who wish to die at home or remain at home for as long as possible. To qualify, the patient needs to be assessed as eligible and to have a carer living with them.

The program is available for the last seven days of life and is delivered by the Silver Chain Nursing Service. Their nurses specialising in end-of-life-care make visits to the home to provide valuable help for the patient and carer through clinical, personal and psychosocial support. Janeane informed us that 83% of the packages were provided to patients with a cancer diagnosis. 70% of these patients die in their own home. So far, in the Wingecarribee 58 packages of care have been provided for 29 patients and 3 of these have been for children or young adults.

The Tackling Tobacco program
“Tackling Tobacco” is a step-by-step program that aims to reduce smoking-related harm amongst the most socio-economically disadvantaged groups in NSW. Through this new program, Cancer Council NSW works with community service organisations to address smoking problems and to give their clients the support they need to quit. The program is made up of six core elements that form an organisation-wide approach to addressing smoking. This approach promotes a shared responsibility of care and a positive culture, ensuring that smoking care becomes part of the usual care provided by the service. Cancer Council NSW have partnered with Highlands Community Centres Stafford Cottage and the program is already underway.

Peter Coupland Trust Fund
Readers of this column may remember that, in May last year, I reported on the sad and unexpected death of Peter Coupland. Peter was a Social Worker at the Southern Highlands Cancer Centre and a most valued member of our Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee. His sudden passing was a great loss and it brought home to all who worked with him what a special and inspiring person he was. Staff colleagues at the Southern Highlands Private Hospital have taken the initiative to organise an event in Peter’s memory. It will take the form of a viewing of two gardens along with a Devonshire tea at ‘Greyleaves’ Burradoo on December 3rd, 2-5pm. All proceeds are going to the Peter Coupland Fund. Organiser Naomi Bermingham tells me details are on a Facebook page ‘Peter Coupland Memorial Fund’.

Can Assist film success

There was another sell-out attendance for the Can Assist film evening at which supporters had the chance to see the new movie “The Light between Oceans”. Successful fundraisers like this are only possible through the work of Can Assist’s tireless volunteers and the generosity of those who make donations and those who attend – all are helping local cancer patients. And the result ? Can Assist's Secretary, Terry Hughes, reports a net result of $5,420 from the evening -- a credit to everyone involved.

Coming Events
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group meet at SH Private Hospital, 10.30am, Nov. 22. RSVP Jo or Katie on 4862 9470
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, Nov. 23.

• Men’s Health Month forum, St Jude’s Auditorium, Nov. 24 at 6pm sharp. Full details can be found in our 'News and Events' section of this website.

• Look Good Feel Better program at SH Private Hospital, Nov. 29. For details and to register, visit their website at or telephone 1800 650 960.

• ‘Greyleaves’ Garden Devonshire tea in aid of Peter Coupland Memorial Fund, Dec. 3, 2-5pm (see above)
• Can Assist meeting, Thursday, Dec. 8th, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - May-June 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Vale Peter Coupland

It is with great sadness that I report to you on the death of our Committee colleague and friend, Peter Coupland, who held the position of Social Worker at the Southern Highlands Cancer Centre and also counselled in a private capacity. He will be remembered with a tender fondness by all who knew him, or worked with him, or were treated by him. Peter had a tremendous sensitivity and compassion, to an extraordinary degree, matched also by a quick intelligence and a great sense of humour. At the May meeting of our committee members spoke of our admiration for Peter and his work in helping cancer patients and their families. We ended the expression of condolence to Peter’s family with a one-minute silence in his memory.

Donations to cancer charities

Readers will know that the Cancer Leadership Committee supports the fund-raising work of Cancer Council NSW through such efforts as the Biggest Morning Tea (see below) and Relay For Life. As well as that, I am often asked : “How do I donate to support cancer patients here in the Southern Highlands ?” I always offer two alternatives : to donate to the Southern Highlands Cancer Centre Trust Fund, whose account is managed by the Southern Highlands Foundation, or to donate to the local branch of Can Assist. Space in this column does not permit me to provide all the necessary details here. Folk who wish to support local patients will find all the information they need on this website. Just click on the "Local Services" tab above and choose Can Assist or the Trust Fund from the pull-down menu. (Donations over $2 to either are tax-deductible.)

Committee changes
In recent months our membership has also altered with the resignations of Tina Hunt (Cancer Council), Kit Bullivant (Can Assist), and Steve Burton (Ambulance Service). All have been members for a number of years and we thank them most sincerely for the continued support they have given to the Committee’s projects. As a result, we have welcomed as new members Aurelia Grigore-Reid from Can Assist, and Sally Hudson from Cancer Council. We look forward to working with both and I know they will be great additions to our team.

Smoke-free outdoor dining
The NSW Government has now announced that their policy to create smoke-free environments in dining areas across the state will commence on July 6th this year. This will apply to outdoor dining areas of hotels, cafes, clubs and restaurants. During 2013 the Government gave notice that they would proceed to implement this step in 2015 in their bid to reduce the effects of tobacco and to increase the emphasis on a healthy lifestyle. Expect to see further details as the policy is rolled out. NSW Health reports that smoking causes around 5,200 deaths and 44,000 hospitalisations in this State alone each year.


There is an innovative program now available online to assist cancer survivors in regaining a sexual relationship. Called Rekindle, this is a private, personalised online resource that addresses sexual concerns for all adults affected by cancer. Supported by the University of Sydney and Cancer Council NSW, the free service can be accessed simply by visiting the website

Coming Events
• National Families Week, May 14-20
• National Palliative Care Week, May 24-30
• Biggest Morning Tea at SH Cancer Centre, Mon. May 25
• May 30 is always World No Tobacco Day
• June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
• Bowel Cancer Dial-in Day, June 5 : Dial 1800 555 494, 10am-4pm
• Can Assist meeting June 11, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital
• Red Apple Day raising awareness of bowel cancer, June 17
• S. H. Community Hospice Gala Dinner, Centennial Vineyards, June 20.

For details, visit the Community Hospice website at

  • Can Assist meeting July  9, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


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