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 - April 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Can Assist Luncheon
The Southern Highlands’ many supporters of Can Assist will be gathering at Bowral Golf Club for lunch on Sunday, May 5. With well known Australian comedian and entertainer, Anthony Ackroyd, as the guest speaker, a beautiful venue looking over the fairway, and all profits going to our local branch of Can Assist, it’s no wonder places are selling fast. To reserve your place at the table, ring Aurelia on 0474 647 506 or email aurelia@ozemail.com.au Oh, and don’t forget the raffle being run in conjunction with the luncheon. Winners for great prizes will be drawn on the day. Look out for tickets (only $2 each) when on sale outside supermarkets – Woolworths and Coles in Bowral and IGA at Moss Vale.

Rare Cancers Australia’s Kosi Challenge
The annual climb of Mount Kosciuszko by enthusiastic followers of Rare Cancers Australia was held this year early in March. The additional activity this time was an inaugural “Parliament to Peak” cycle ride, organised by keen local cyclist, Zac Hulm. Always a big fundraiser for RCA, Kosi Challenge 2019 was able to raise over $278,000 for the their programs in aid of people with rare or less common cancers. RCA continues to progress and grow, exemplified by their move into larger offices in Springetts Arcade. The greater space will enable the national organisation to provide the new patient care program which is being rolled out with substantial funding from the Federal Government.

Meeting with Stephen Jones, MP
I had the chance early in April to sit down with Kate Vines from Rare Cancers Australia to discuss the ALP Medicare cancer plan with the Federal member for Whitlam. We were able to take up some issues about the details of the plan and how it would be implemented. The listing of more cancer medications on the PBS should see some relief for people living with cancer when it comes to their pharmaceutical bills. Mr Jones was keen to find out more about the kinds of out-of-pocket expenses incurred by patients during treatment.

Myeloma Australia forms support group
The first meeting of a new support group will be held on Friday, 3rd May. This is an initiative of Myeloma Australia to provide support for people living with myeloma, their family and friends. The venue is Bowral CWA rooms with the meeting 10am-12pm on Friday, May 3. For more information, ring Geo Sobrio on 0420823420.

Changes at our committee
From time to time, circumstances change and committed members of our Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership team have to move on. We regret to say that this has happened for both Mira Glavan and Heather Parkes - Mira having transferred to a new position with NSW Health and Heather concentrating on her work with the Bong Bong Race Committee. The Committee sincerely thanks both for their valuable contributions to our work.

Latest news : A new lymphoedema unit has been opened in Bowral Public Hospital.

Coming Events
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. April 23, RSVP Katie
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12pm, Wed. April 24
• Myeloma Australia first meeting of Support Group, Bowral CWA rooms, 10am-12pm, Fri. May 3

• Can Assist Luncheon at Bowral Golf Club, 12 noon, Sun. May 5. For tickets : ring 0474 647 506 or email : aurelia@ozemail.com.au

• Can Assist Meeting, Mittagong RSL, 10am May 14
• Dance event “Stars of the Highlands”, Mittagong RSL, 6.30pm May 17. For tickets : ring 4872 6700.

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


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Cancer Connections - February 2019

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Saving Life 2019

The campaign launched by Cancer Council for the 2019 NSW election is now well under way. Each time there is a State election, a series of questions is put to the candidates of the major parties which might form the new government.

This year the campaign is entitled “Saving Life 2019” and in the lead up to the March 23rd poll candidates will be asked whether they are prepared to give their support to each of these asks :

1) Strengthen the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 to ensure that people working or socialising in a bar or club in NSW are protected from second-hand smoke.

2) Amend the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008 to ban tobacco vending machines and introduce an annual licence fee to encourage retailers to stop selling. These measures will reduce the risk of young people developing this fatal habit and support smokers to quit. 

3) Remove junk food advertising from state owned property to reduce children’s exposure; and support national regulations on food marketing to children.
 
4) Provide funding for public lymphoedema services across NSW to ensure that people with lymphoedema have timely access to evidence-based care, regardless of where they live.

In my role as the MP Liaison person between Cancer Council and the candidates in the seat of Wollondilly, I will ask the aspirants for the Liberal and Labor parties (Nathaniel Smith and Jo-Ann Davidson respectively) to respond to these four questions. Their answers will be posted here. Since there is a possibility that the independent Judith Hannan could be elected after preferences are distributed, I shall record her responses as well.

(Further explanation about each of these campaign issues can be found on the website of Cancer Council NSW.)

The candidates’ responses are summarised below. Naturally, they were not all familiar with the four issues raised by the Cancer Council campaign. That was part of the exercise – to have them engage with those issues and consider giving their support. I gave each a copy of the “Saving Life 2019” booklet so that they could look more closely at the proposals and the evidence-based case for them.

On (1) above :
All three candidates readily agreed with strengthening the Smoke-free Environment Act.

On (2) above :
* Nathaniel was not sure yet. He first wanted to check out which Government department or agency is responsible for tobacco vending machines and who would operate a licence system.
* Jo-Ann did not oppose this one but was concerned about one aspect which she raised : “If the smaller retailers stop selling tobacco, that will mean that the two big supermarket chains will gain an even bigger monopoly in tobacco sales”.
* Judith promptly agreed with the proposal.

On (3) above :
* Nathaniel was cautious at first on this but agreed it would be worthwhile, especially in coping with the food industry lobby groups.
* Jo-Ann agreed. She did raise an issue of federal vs state responsibilities in the area of food marketing.
* Judith supported the proposal.

On (4) above :
All three candidates readily agreed with providing increased funding for public lymphoedema services. All saw that it was a matter of finding the money to do it.




Mount Kosciuszko Challenge

Rare Cancers Australia is holding its Mount Kosciuszko Challenge & inaugural “Parliament to Peak” cycle ride in March. This climb to the summit has become an enjoyable annual event for Rare Cancers Australia and its supporters as well as being a significant fundraiser for the organisation. Last year saw 500 people take part. The actual climb from Thredbo to the peak will happen Saturday March 2. But this year there is an exciting new additional (optional) activity, no doubt due to the involvement of cycling enthusiast, Zac Hulm, within RCA. The P2P Cycle Challenge component, for those who are up for it, will leave Parliament House in Canberra on the morning of February 28th, stay overnight in Cooma, then ride along the Monaro Highway and up the Alpine Way to finish in Thredbo Village on the afternoon of March 1st. Full details of the climb itself and what it involves, and the cycle ride, can be found by visiting the RCA website at www.rarecancers.org.au


March Charge for Cancer Council

Walk or run, in a team or do it solo. It’s your Charge and your choice. The March Charge is a fun personal fitness challenge that has an enormous impact on how cancer is researched and treated. Just by walking or running for Cancer Council this March, and by raising funds, you can help Charge ahead with cancer research, prevention, advocacy and support services. The work of Cancer Council NSW is spread across the whole range of various forms of cancer. You can choose to go solo or get your friends, family, and colleagues together and do it as a team – it’s up to you. Charge anywhere and at anytime you like. You can Charge in the morning with your family or walk with your colleagues at lunch. Find out more about how to get organised at the Cancer Council NSW website : www.cancercouncil.com.au



Community Wellness Festival

A “Rhythm of Life” event will be held in March in the beautiful grounds of Retford Park, Old South Road, Bowral. As you know, James Fairfax AC gifted his grand home and surrounding gardens to the National Trust who are making the site available for selected community events. On the weekend of March 9-10, a Community Wellness Festival will be held to promote awareness of various practices which stem from Eastern philosophies of wellbeing. Local practitioners and individuals will be on hand to highlight their approaches to healthy living. An exhibition from a private collection of Indian and Asian art, textiles and artefacts will also be on display. Contact details : email to retfordpark@nationaltrust.com.au or telephone 02 4861 1933.


Coming Events
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. Feb. 26 RSVP Katie
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, Wed. Feb. 27
• March has the March Charge for Cancer Council – see details above
• Mount Kosciuszko Challenge for RCA, Sat. March 2 – see details above
• Community Wellness Festival, Retford Park, 10am-4pm March 9 & 10
• Can Assist Meeting, Mittagong RSL, 10am March 12
• Watch out for the next Southern Highlands Can Assist event – details next month, here in this column and on our website.

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


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Cancer Connections - January 2019

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Cancer Research remains ESSENTIAL
Continuing on from last month’s mention of some of the progress being made in cancer research, I am providing a brief summary of an item in ‘The New Daily’ which early last month reported on a promising discovery by Australian researchers.

A unique biomarker for cancer

The discovery of a unique DNA signature common to multiple cancers could one day revolutionise the way we diagnose cancer, particularly in its early stages. The cancer marker was identified by scientists at the University of Queensland who have also developed a simple test to detect it in blood and biopsy tissue. Senior researcher Matt Trau (pictured left) said it had been difficult to find a “simple marker” that would distinguish cancer cells from healthy ones. “We never thought this would be possible, because cancer is so complicated,” said Professor Trau. “Even for breast cancer, there are a dozen types, so we thought there would be different tests for different types of cancer.” The researchers were surprised to find the marker appeared in every type of breast cancer they examined, as well as in people with prostate cancer, colorectal cancer and lymphoma.


“Usually, the approach to find cancer markers … is to look at the sequence of DNA,” Professor Trau said. Taking a different tack, he and his colleagues looked instead at patterns of molecules called methyl groups, which decorate the DNA and control which genes are switched on and off. The position of these molecules forms part of the epigenome. The researchers found that in healthy cells, methyl groups are spread out across the genome. But on the genomes of cancer cells, methyl groups were positioned in intense clusters at specific locations. “Virtually every piece of cancerous DNA we examined had this highly predictable pattern,” Professor Trau said. The researchers developed a test which can detect cancer cells by picking up this epigenetic pattern in blood and biopsy tissue.

Associate Professor Elin Gray, a senior cancer researcher at Edith Cowan University, said the research was an exciting piece of work that offered “a lot of potential”. “It’s in its early stages and will have to be validated … but I think it’s very interesting - it’s a totally different approach.”

Cancer referrals on the increase

Our tireless Secretary of the Southern Highlands branch of Can Assist, Terry Hughes, reports that the number of new cancer patients getting in touch with our branch since the start of July 2018 is already 63. I can indicate that this does represent an increase on previous years. New referrals of people diagnosed with cancer and seeking some form of support from Can Assist numbered 93 in 2015/2016, 105 in 2016/2017 and 104 in 2017/2018. The work of the local charity is only made possible by the continuing generosity of donors in the Southern Highlands who give directly or who support the many fundraising activities held in the name of Can Assist. Anyone wishing to hold a function to benefit their work should get in touch with the Secretary by email to gandt@live.com so that the appropriate approval can be organised.


Coming Events
• Southern Highlands branch of Can Assist will meet at Mittagong RSL Club, 10am Feb 12th.

• Rare Cancers Australia hold their Mount Kosciuszko Challenge and inaugural “Parliament to Peak” cycle ride in March. Climb from Thredbo to the summit on Sat. March 2nd. Full details on the RCA website at www.kosichallenge.com.au


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


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Cancer Connections - October 2018

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Saving Life 2019
As the March 2019 NSW election looms closer, some campaign issues are already taking shape. While transport troubles appear to have transfixed many Sydneysiders, those of us living outside the capital can afford to focus on broader matters. On the health policy front, an important issue will be Cancer Council’s call for a future State Government – whichever party is elected - to act on “Saving Life 2019”. That campaign focuses on four areas : reducing junk food advertising; removing tobacco vending machines; introducing a tobacco retail licence fee; and improving funding for lymphoedema services.

In late September I met with Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell and his Electoral Secretary, Tracey Watkins, to raise these questions and present them with copies of the Saving Life booklet. During our discussion of all four asks, Mr Rowell was most supportive on the issues and readily signed the postcard which calls on the Premier to act. I was even more impressed with his willingness to take up those matters within the Liberal Party room. To see further detail on how Cancer Council wants to reduce the impact of cancer in our communities, visit their website at www.cancercouncil.com.au and search “Saving Life 2019”.




Relay for Life Southern Highlands 2018

Relay is a chance for the Southern Highlands community to recognise and celebrate local cancer survivors, patients and their carers, to honour and remember loved ones lost to cancer and to raise money to help save more lives. This year it will be on Moss Vale Showground Sat. October 20, commencing at 11 am. Funds raised at Relays go towards Cancer Council’s vital research, prevention, information and support services. To join up or donate, just Google "relay for life southern highlands 2018". Or you can contact the co-ordinator, Kelly Dinnerville, at Kelly.Dinnerville@nswcc.org.au or telephone (02) 42230242. You could join one of the existing teams or start one of your own with some friends or colleagues. Who will you relay for ?



Men’s Health Month

A forum on issues affecting men’s health will be held on each Monday in November, starting at 6pm sharp at St Jude’s Auditorium. The series, again organised by Tom Carroll, will commence on Mon. Nov. 5. Full program details are on this website - just click on the item under the "News & Events" tab.


Results from Can Assist film night
The movie night fundraiser for Can Assist produced a very good result for the local charity. With proceeds from ticket sales and accompanying raffle, it produced a net result of $3,600 which will all go towards supporting local cancer patients. We again received great assistance from New Empire Cinemas, FISH (Film in the Southern Highlands), and our other sponsors. Many thanks are due to the reliable band of Can Assist volunteers who helped to make the event run smoothly and the many supporters who attended on the night. Special thanks must go to Aurelia and John who made the whole thing possible.
Just in : Aurelia reports that Can Assist has been given a most generous donation from the Moss Vale Ladies Golf Day : $5,200. What a wonderful boost for patients! Many thanks.

Coming Events
• Pink Ribbon Day can be any day in October in support of women with breast or gynaecological cancer. With Halloween coming, Rare Cancers is running “scare4rare” activities. And October is also Dogtober, Ocsober, and Walktober.
• National Carer’s Week will be held Oct. 16 to 22.

• YWCA Encore program, Mittagong, Wednesdays, Oct. 17 to Dec. 5. Details are on this website; look for the sub-menu under the "Local Services" tab.

• Relay for Life Southern Highlands 2018, Moss Vale Showground, 11am Sat. Oct. 20 to 21.
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. Oct.. 23 RSVP Katie
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, Oct. 24
• 26th Oct. is National Bandanna Day for CanTeen

• 26th Oct. is RCA Halloween Charity Ball in Sydney Town Hall. All details on RCA website at http://www.rarecancers.org.au

• Men’s Health forum each Monday of November, starting Nov 5, 6pm at St Jude’s
• Can Assist Meeting at Mittagong RSL Club, 10am Nov. 13.
• A “Bouncing Forward Now” program will be held soon. Ring the Cancer Centre for details.

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


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Cancer Connections - June 2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Cancer Services Directory 2018

This year’s edition of the Southern Highlands Cancer Services Directory was published as a free insert in Southern Highland News on Friday June 15th. This issue, which was our 10th, has focussed on the important theme of blood cancers. It contains a number of feature articles written for us around that topic by Dr Silvia Ling, Dr Vince Roche, Rare Cancers Australia, and the Leukaemia Foundation. The material provides much needed information about this lesser-known aspect of the cancer field. If you did miss out on the flip-style A5 booklet, with the Health Guide at the other end, copies will still be available if you enquire at the Southern Highland News office or at the Cancer Centre within the Private Hospital. Our Directory can now also be read online, courtesy of Fairfax special publications, as an interactive digital magazine. Just go to our Directory tab above and click on the link provided on that page.


Can Assist’s new venue
Starting with the June meeting, the monthly coming together of local Can Assist volunteers will now be held at the Mittagong RSL Club, in place of BDCU, which is no longer able to assure that a room would be available. The support of the BDCU in providing a meeting place, completely free of charge, was much appreciated by the local charity whose funds are spent entirely in assisting cancer patients in the Wingecarribee. For the time being, the monthly meetings of members will be held at the RSL Club, still at 10am, with a view to making a firm arrangement for the forthcoming year.



Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

With the provocative slogan of “Get behind it !”, the Bowel Cancer Awareness campaign continues throughout June. This form of cancer, less acknowledged and less discussed than it really should be, remains a major cause of death among Australians. Something like 80 lives are lost every week to cancers of the bowel. Hence the eye-catching approach being taken to raise awareness of the issue and motivate more people to act on protecting their own health. Red Apple Day is on June 20th to help spread the message. More information is available – just go to http://www.bowelcancerawarenessmonth.org


“Stars of the Highlands Dance for Cancer”
A great night and a great result on the fundraising front for the dance extravaganza. This year’s event, following on the success of the initial one last year, was even bigger and better and resulted in raising around $53,000. These funds will go towards Cancer Council’s projects in the region, including continuing support for their services in transporting local cancer patients to and from their medical appointments and treatment. The winners of the dance event were Patrick Glanville and Monique Barrios, who also took out best costume, and the trophy for most funds raised went to Joh Bailey, with more than $13,000 donated. A fantastic achievement by all concerned and a new way to have fun in aid of a good cause.

Coming Events
• June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month with Red Apple Day on the 20th
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. June 26 RSVP Katie
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, June 27
• “Passion on the Field” an RCA event at Royal Randwick, July 7 – all details can be found on the Rare Cancers website at https://www.rarecancers.org.au/events
• Can Assist Meeting at Mittagong RSL Club, not BDCU, 10am July 10.
Please note the change of venue.
*  Cancer Support Group : Please note that the meeting planned for 24th July has been cancelled.

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


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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 - January 2018

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Cancer Council campaign
The campaign agenda for 2018 has now been decided by over 1000 advocacy volunteers for Cancer Council NSW. The CanAct volunteers have chosen five major issues to focus on during this year and leading up to the State election next year. They will be campaigning to :

   • support people with lymphoedema

   • protect the community from tobacco

   • improve access to medical cannabis

   • protect our kids from junk food marketing

   • employ more Aboriginal workers in cancer services.

In the past, campaigns by CanAct members have achieved much to reduce cancer rates and improve outcomes for patients, most recently seen with the success in gaining additional funding for palliative care in the 2017 Budget. More will be heard about these issues when action gets underway in the coming months.

Sunday @ Centennial

This catchy title is to promote the forthcoming Can Assist Luncheon to be held at Centennial Vineyards restaurant on Sunday, February 11th. With welcome drinks at noon followed by the 3 course lunch commencing at 1pm, entertainment by Johnny Spitz, and Dr Riton Das as the guest speaker, the afternoon promises to be another great fundraiser for our local cancer charity. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Aurelia on 0474647506 or by email to aurelia@ozemail.com.au The event is being held in conjunction with a raffle offering fabulous prizes. All profits go to Can Assist Southern Highlands. Full details are given on the Latest News & Events column on this website.


New Research into Bowel Cancer
Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in Australia, with approximately 17,000 new cases diagnosed last year. Women have a 1 in 15 chance of getting bowel cancer in their lifetime, while men have a 1 in 10 chance. The survival rate has only slightly increased to 67% in the last decade. That’s why it is essential that research is directed into the prevention and treatment of bowel cancer.

Cancer Council NSW committed funding of $360,000 in 2016 to the Valerie Enid Legge Project Grant led by Professor Xu Dong Zhang at the University of Newcastle. Prof Zhang has made an important discovery : that a certain protein is linked to the development of advanced bowel cancer. His team has found that blocking this protein has the potential to slow down the growth of the cancer cells. This finding represents a big step towards creating personalised bowel cancer therapies that are effective in treating the disease at the molecular level.

Mount Kosciuszko Challeng 2018
Rare Cancers Australia will again be holding their exciting climb from Thredbo to the summit. This year's event (the 6th) will take place on Saturday, March 17. Last year's climb raised over $140,000 to help patients with rare or less common cancers. Full details are on the RCA website at https://www.kosichallenge.com.au

Coming Events
• Can Assist fundraiser lunch “Sunday @ Centennial”, February 11th. See item above.
• Can Assist meets on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. Next meeting will be at BDCU, Bowral, 10am Feb 13
• Southern Highlands Cancer Centre Support Group will not meet in January. Next meeting 10am, Tues. Feb 27, RSVP Katie
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, Wed. Feb 28
* Mount Kosciuszko Challenge for Rare Cancers Australia, Sat. March 17
• “The March Charge” is on in 2018. See Cancer Council NSW website for details.

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


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Cancer Connections - September 2017

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Portacath insertion issue
Our committee has been seeking an improvement in the provision of Portacath devices to uninsured patients so they will no longer have to travel to Concord Hospital for the insertion. We had asked for the brief operation to be performed at Bowral & District Hospital and were advised back in July that the issue was currently under discussion. No definite answer has been received yet, but one possible option is that, if Campbelltown Hospital were to be approved for vascular surgery, then public patients from the Southern Highlands might be able to have the device inserted there. Still a journey, but certainly a shorter one than to Concord and back. More information when it comes to hand.






Pictured at Springetts Arcade (L to R)  : Deb Wrigley, Christine Graham, Jonathon & Miranda Hassett


Daffodil Day well supported
Once again this August the volunteers of the Wingecarribee turned out on Daffodil Day to help collect funds for Cancer Council NSW. There were stalls set up at Mittagong’s Highlands Marketplace and at Springetts Arcade and Coles Supermarket in Bowral, offering a range of merchandise from beautiful bunches of fresh daffodils, to the badges, pens, keyrings and toy bears which carry the brand. At the Springetts stall, I met Team Leader Christine Graham, assisted by Deb Wrigley and Miranda & Jonathon Hassett. Christine had commenced her role last year when she took over from the well-known John Sider. Over at Coles, Lauren McDonald was fully in charge of the table for her 11th year ! Through the generous support of Southern Highlands residents, the contributions raised will go towards the many avenues by which Cancer Council assists those with a cancer diagnosis. The latest form of that help to our own locals is the new car purchased for the sole use by GAPS volunteers to transport Wingecarribee cancer patients.


Pictured at Coles Supermarket : Lauren McDonald



















10 years and going strong

Members of the Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee were a little surprised when I pointed out recently that we had just passed the 10-year milestone for the volunteer group. Back in 2007 a small band of like-minded people came together to see what could be done to improve services for local cancer patients. A great boost came when Cancer Council NSW used some of the funds from Relay for Life to provide a bus to take patients to Campbelltown and back for their treatment. The bus still runs today, five days a week, manned by volunteer drivers. Since then, the committee has gone on to provide the material for the annual Cancer Services Directory, now in its 9th year, and for this regular monthly column, both supported by Southern Highland News. These two initiatives are to inform people about patient services available in our district : for transport, accommodation, legal and financial help, along with programs to assist after cancer surgery. That led naturally to the committee starting its own website to put all the information online. Which brought about this website : Southern Highlands Cancer Connect, now in its 7th year of operation.


During those 10 years, our committee has called for improved services in palliative care, haematology, and portacatheter insertion, and supported the limits placed on smoking tobacco in public places. We have helped in the formation and operation of the GAPS service. Currently we channel donations through to local cancer charities, promote various fundraisers, and work closely with local Can Assist and numerous cancer support groups. These are achievements of which we can be modestly proud and I thank all committee members, past and present.

Coming Events
• Bright Pink Lipstick Day for awareness of hereditary breast & ovarian cancer, Sept 22
• Blue September is raising awareness of cancers affecting men.
• Can Assist event : A “Secret Garden Party” in Bowral, 3-6pm, Sunday Sept 24
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. Sept. 26 RSVP Katie
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, Sept. Sept. 27
• October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
• “Light the Night” for Leukaemia Foundation, Bradman Oval, 5.30-8.30pm Oct. 6
• Can Assist Meeting 10am October 10th at BDCU, Bowral
* YWCA Encore program will be conducted from Oct. 11th to Nov. 29th. Contact Susie 0419 221 433. 
      For details of the program, see the webpage under the "Local Services" tab above.
• National Bandanna Day for CanTeen, Oct 27
• RCA function Sick or Treat Charity Ball, Sydney, Oct. 27.
* Great movie night : "Murder on the Orient Express" - a fundraiser for Can Assist at the New Empire Cinemas, 6 for 5.30pm on Nov. 9th. See all the details in our 'News & Events' column

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




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Cancer Connections - July 2017

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Travelling for Portacath
Patients requiring the insertion of a Portacath device for the administration of their cancer treatment can have this done easily here in the Southern Highlands - that is, provided they have private health insurance. But you may not know that Highlands patients without health insurance need to travel to either Liverpool or Concord Hospitals to have this done, as public patients. We are told that Liverpool continues to have a 10-week waiting list, so that it usually means a journey to Concord, although the actual operation can be done within about 30 minutes. Quite frequently, these patients require transport to Concord and back by our GAPS service (General and Practical Support) which is staffed by our local volunteers. Obviously it is a lengthy journey for a person undergoing treatment.

If an operating theatre at Bowral & District Hospital were to be made available for those times at which a public patient needed the insertion, we know that there are local doctors who would be willing to perform the operation here in the Highlands. (For this to happen, Bowral & District would need to be accredited for vascular surgery.) We have been advised by the Hospital’s General Manager that the portacath issue is “currently under discussion” and our committee will continue to pursue a solution.


Cancer Council car helps to fill some GAPS

Last month I reported that Cancer Council NSW have provided a new car for the use of those GAPS drivers mentioned above. It means that, each day, one volunteer can leave his own car at home and instead take the Toyota RAV4 with its Cancer Council logo. That car has certainly been at work : already it has covered 3000km in its first 3 weeks of operation. While on the statistics, I can say that, in total during 2016-17, the GAPS volunteer drivers transported 417 passengers over 816 trips covering 37,000 km to treatment, appointments etc. In the same period, our other volunteer service, the Cancer Council Patient Transport Bus - taking cancer patients to Campbelltown for radiation treatment - transported 718 passengers over 1,400 trips and travelled 40,000km. Truly amazing support from local people. Any Southern Highlands men or women interested in volunteering as a driver are asked to contact Sally Lewis at Cancer Council's Wollongong office, 4223 0205.


Rare Cancers Australia

At our July meeting, our committee member, Richard Vines, a Director of Rare Cancers Australia, reported on a number of his organisation’s recent achievements. These include successfully applying for a drug to be listed on the PBS for use with rare cancer patients, launching a national database to identify specialist clinicians who have expertise in particular forms of rare and less common cancer, and developing close working relationships with the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, pharmaceutical companies and the Peter MacCallum Institute. RCA has also been involved in upgrading their successful app for cancer patients called CAN.recall which has now been translated into Mandarin as well. For this and more information about the work of Rare Cancers Australia, visit their website at www.rarecancers.org.au/


Coming Events
• July is Dry July
• PAWS Pet Therapy function, Centennial Vineyards, July 22, 5-10pm.
PAWS Pet Therapy volunteers needed : ring Sharon Stewart 46810499
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. July 25 RSVP Katie
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, Wed. July 26
• Jeans for Genes Day in aid of Children's Medical Research Institute, August 5
• Dying to Know Day for end-of-life planning, August 8

• RCA CanForum in Canberra, August 9. See RCA website www.rarecancers.org.au/

• Can Assist Annual Branch Meeting, 10am August 8 at BDCU, Bowral.
• RCA event : “Passion on the Field”, Randwick Racecourse, August 19
• Daffodil Day, Friday August 25

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or info@sh-cancerconnect.com.au


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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 https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/enrich/  Reservations are essential; telephone 1300 360 541 or email enrich@nswcc.org.au


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 www.themarchcharge.com.au
• Mount Kosciuszko Challenge, March 18. A fundraiser by Rare Cancers Australia, this involves a climb from Thredbo to the summit. To register, visit www.rarecancers.org.au
• “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 info@sh-cancerconnect.com.au


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