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 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 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

Grahame Hackett (Chair, Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - July 2018

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cancer Services Directory 2018 now online

Our 2018 edition is now out in the community thanks to the support of Southern Highland News. 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. The next step is for me to let everyone know that, from this website, our Directory can now also be read online, courtesy of Fairfax special publications, as an interactive digital magazine. Simply go to the Directory tab above and click on the link provided. It’s all there.

Southern Highlands Breast Cancer Support Group
Meeting on the 4th Wednesday of each month 10am to 12 noon at the Mittagong RSL, this group provides information and support to breast cancer patients and survivors. The concept is one of building a safe, supportive and confidential environment. For more information, contact the volunteer facilitator, Lesley McPherson, on 0438001177.

Telephone Support Groups

Cancer Council has had over 10 years’ experience at conducting telephone support groups to offer support and information to adults affected by cancer, including patients, families and carers. Wherever you are in Australia, you can talk with people who are in a similar situation and share experiences and information. The groups give and receive support by sharing practical tips, tools and strategies. Each group has 3-8 members and two qualified facilitators. Groups get together over the phone twice a month; it’s free and confidential. To join or find out more, call Cancer Council 13 11 20 or 1300 755 632 or email


If you’re a teenager with a cancer diagnosis, you can connect with others your own age by joining the CanTeen community. No-one is able to understand quite what you are going through as well as another teenager who has been on a similar journey. Teenagers can connect online or face-to-face. Just visit their website for all the information.

Encore Program

Breast cancer survivors in the Southern Highlands will have an opportunity to take part in the next YWCA Encore program in Mittagong. If you or someone you know is interested in joining the program, the next course will run on Wednesdays, Oct. 17 to Dec. 5. For more information, check out their website Registration is essential : Contact Encore’s Co-ordinator, Vicki Totsis, on 02 9285 6264 or email

Drivers needed to fill GAPS
The General and Practical Support program (GAPS) is a volunteer activity supported by Cancer Council NSW. We have volunteer drivers using their own cars, or the vehicle supplied by Cancer Council, to take cancer patients to medical consultations or treatment. At the moment we need more volunteers willing to help with longer trips, which often means taking people to treatment in Sydney and return. If you are able to help, please get in touch with Megan Mattingly (0242230254) who will explain what is involved.

Coming Events
• Note : There will be no meeting of Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group in July. Meetings resume in August.
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, July 25

• Can Assist Annual Branch Meeting, Mittagong RSL Club (not BDCU) 10am August 21

(Note : it’s the 3rd Tuesday, not the 2nd. Please note the change of venue as well.)
• Daffodil Day this year will be Friday, August 24.
* Film Night fundraiser for Can Assist, Sept 20, 6 for 6.30pm. See details under "News & Events" tab above.
• YWCA Encore program, Mittagong, Wednesdays, Oct. 17 to Dec. 5. See details above.
• Advance Notice : Relay for Life Southern Highlands 2018 will be held at Moss Vale Showground from 11am Sat. Oct. 20 to 11am Sun. Oct. 21.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee)
0407 234 780 or


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


Cancer Connections - January 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Breast Cancer Support Group reforms

The good news is that a support group for breast cancer patients and survivors in the Southern Highlands has been re-activated. The new group will be having its first meeting at the Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, on Wednesday, January 27th. This is due to the initiative of the volunteer facilitator, Lesley McPherson. For more information, ring Lesley on 0438 001177 or email to

There is also continuing support for men diagnosed with prostate cancer. This is available by contacting Tom Carroll, the organiser of the Prostate Support Group, on 0419 482208 or email to

Advance Notice of Can Assist Luncheon

The local branch of Can Assist will be holding a luncheon at Summerlees Estate, Illawarra Highway, Sutton Forest, 12 for 12.30pm, on Sunday, March 6th. Tickets for this event will be taken up quickly, so for all bookings and enquiries, please telephone Aurelia Grigore-Reid on 4861 3234 or 0418 466 739; or else email to

Cancer Services Directory 2016
The 8th edition of our Southern Highlands Cancer Sevices Directory will be published as a free booklet with an issue of the Southern Highland News in late March. For this year’s edition, the Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee has chosen to base its articles around the issue of rare and less common cancers. In doing this, we are acknowledging and supporting the work of the organisation, Rare Cancers Australia, which was founded by its energetic Directors, Richard and Kate Vines, of Bowral.

Relay For Life 2016
As the co-ordinating committee gets everything together, it’s a good time to make note of some of the changes for this year’s Relay : new venue at Moss Vale Showground; new times from 12 noon Saturday to 12 noon on Sunday. The dates : April 2nd – 3rd.

Mount Kosciuszko Challenge

Rare Cancers Australia will be holding their climb to the top of Mount Kosciuszko on March 12 this year. This annual event to raise funds through supporters and sponsors has a target this year of 100 people taking part in the climb. Details are on the Rare Cancers website at

Tenpin Bowling for WHAM
The next fundraiser for the Wingecarribee Health Association for Men (WHAM) – the organisers of the November Men’s Health Forums - will be a Highlands Tenpin event at Mittagong on Friday, March 18. For bookings and all information, telephone 4871 1600.

Coming Events
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, Wed. Jan. 27
• World Cancer Day will be on Thursday, February 4th
• Can Assist meeting, Thursday, February 11th, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital

• February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Hold an afternoon tea in February to support Ovarian Cancer Australia. Their website is at

• Here’s another cause : organise an Iced Tea Party for lymphoedema research, mid-Feb. to end of March. See the website :

• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group meet at the private hospital, 10am on Feb. 23rd. RSVP Jo or Katie on 4862 9470
• Can Assist luncheon at Summerlees, 12 for 12.30pm, March 6. See above.
  Look Good Feel Better program, Cancer Centre, 10am-12.30pm, March 8
• Rare Cancers Australia hold Mount Kosciuszko Challenge, March 12
• Highlands Tenpin in aid of men’s health forums, Fri. March 18. Telephone 4871 1600
• Relay For Life 2016 on Sat.-Sun. April 2-3 at Moss Vale Showground

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - October 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October is Pink Month

Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in Australia, with a new case diagnosed every hour. Wear a Pink Ribbon in October and help increase awareness about breast cancer or get the girls together for a ‘Girls Night In’. You can also help raise funds for breast cancer research by registering to volunteer time at one of the local sites on merchandise day, which is Friday 24th October. (The official National Pink Ribbon Day will be on Monday 27th.) For further information please visit Local sites will be at Springetts Arcade and Mittagong Marketplace.

Men’s Health Month

November in the Southern Highlands will see a series of free information sessions on men’s health featuring speakers who are all from our local medical community. These events will be held at the Moss Vale Golf Club, starting at 6.00pm (sharp) through to 7.30pm on each Thursday evening. 

The speakers will be : Dr Lalak (urologist) and Dr Barnett (GP) Nov 6th; Dr Quinn (cardiologist), Dr Sparkes (GP) and Lucy Forbes (Physiotherapist)  Nov 13th; Dr Leicester (orthopaedic surgeon), Dr Roche (GP) and Rachel van der Meer (Exercise Physiologist)  Nov 20th; and Dr Wikramanyaka (bowel specialist), Dr Lewis (GP) and Rachel van der Meer (speaking as a Dietician) Nov 27th. All men and women are welcome. For further information, telephone the organiser, Tom Carroll, on 0419482208 or email

Can Assist’s "Venice Carnivale"

Bendooley Estate, Berrima is the setting for a special dinner and auction on Thursday, 20th November. The evening has an Italian theme and guests are to be dressed “glamorous and masked”. The theme derives from an original framed picture of the San Marco Piazza generously donated by its artist, Prof. Desmond Freeman, a strong supporter of Can Assist. This beautiful painting and many other unusual and valuable items will be available in the “Amazing Mystique Auction”. 

The spectacular event is a major fundraiser for the Southern Highlands branch of Can Assist which is currently helping 60 patients with pharmacy bills, transport costs, accommodation at treatment centres, oxygen, palliative care, and respite night nursing. Full details are shown in the “News and Events” item on this website. For inquiries, telephone 0475 522 159 or email Tickets are $185 each and are available at

Volunteers helping others

Can you volunteer to help cancer patients in our GAPS program ? The General and Practical Support service is available in the Wingecarribee to people undergoing cancer treatment. Training for volunteers is provided by Cancer Council NSW. You can assist preparing light snacks; shopping; respite for a carer; and transport to medical appointments or to connect with the Patient Transport Service. Whether you are helping a patient or their carer, your assistance will be greatly appreciated by people who are facing a most serious challenge to their health. If you would like to take part, phone Tina Hunt at Cancer Council on 4223 0200.

Rare Cancers Australia

A reminder of two events : The inaugural “Sick or Treat” Halloween Ball on Friday 31st October at The Intercontinental Hotel in Sydney and the 3rd Annual Rare Cancers Cricket Challenge at Bradman Oval on Sunday 2nd November. Proceeds go to help Australians in need of cancer medication not funded by government. For more information on both these events, visit the website or phone 02 4862 2768.

Coming Events

• October is Pink Month : ‘Girls Night In’ and Pink Ribbon events are on
• Pink Ribbon Day, Fri. Oct. 24th. Tables at Springetts & Mittagong Marketplace
• National Bandanna Day is on October 31st
• Men’s Health Month events in November. Please see details above.
• Can Assist meeting, Thurs. Nov. 13th, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital
• “Venice Carnivale” for Can Assist, Thurs. Nov. 20th at Bendooley Estate

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - May 2014

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Relay For Life 2014

Remember the day ? Saturday, 3rd May ? The weather : cold, wet and windy. Did that deter people from attending ? No way ! Over 1000 people from the Southern Highlands turned up in their various teams to remember those taken by cancer and to celebrate those who presently cope with the disease. Our keynote speaker, Barbara Williams, was both entertaining and inspiring as she described the excitement she had in forming a breast cancer dragonboat team and competing at regattas. The full text of what she had to say can now be read on this website : just click on the News & Events item.

The Survivors and Carers Walk signalled the commencement of the actual relay. Andrew Hearn, the Berrima auctioneer, led the way again this time with a swirl of his bagpipes and a complete indifference to the rain falling at that time. Despite the conditions, this year’s Relay was a resounding success ! For starters, the target of $200,000 had been reached before the day even began. By the end of May, the funds raised were in excess of $284,000 !. Truly this is an amazing result and demonstrates once again the tremendous generosity of the Southern Highlands community in helping others.

Donations put to work
How does Cancer Council use these funds ? Firstly there is the costly area of research into the causes and the treatment of cancer. Cancer Council NSW will spend over $15 million on research alone this year. In our local area, they finance the Patient Transport Service bus, the GAPS program supporting patients and carers in their own homes, and the information resource stands now available in a number of medical centres. They support the Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee and provided the funds to establish this website. And all local cancer patients and carers have access to their wide range of support services : the Helpline on 13 11 20; telephone, online and one-to-one peer support programs; financial assistance; prevention programs; the Sunsmart schools and community speakers programs in addition to their extensive cancer information services.

Miss Relay 2014
Maybe conditions on the day caused a reduction in the number of contestants – there were 20 entrants two years ago – but nevertheless a quality field turned out this year. Before the contestants headed off to seek contributions, the early betting possibly favoured the seductive Nicola, who may have been lacking in dress sense but more than made up for it in (shall we say) maturity of years. It was Jasmina, however, who ultimately stole the show in a decisive manner. Known to his friends as James Smith from Krebs 4 Us, our new Miss Relay was strong enough to even defeat the 2012 winner, Miss Randy Tart.

Obviously with an eye to the weather, James chose a fetching little number in brilliant red satin, set off with an eye-catching white polka dot pattern on the bodice. Already streets ahead in the fashion stakes as it was, Jasmina then pulled the proverbial rabbit out of the bucket : a cheque for $500 from his employer. This was enough to trump all other collections and the title was his.

Mother’s Day Classic
By the time this column goes to press, the inaugural Bowral Mother's Day Classic Walk for Breast Cancer will have been held at Bong Bong Racecourse, Sunday, May 11th. Proceeds will go towards the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The success of this venture is all due to the great work done by Georgie Cousens, Jess Hunter, and their team of volunteers who decided to establish this as an annual event.

BowelCare Australia Program for 2014
Most pharmacies in the Southern Highlands are participating in the BowelCare Australia Program. Kits are available at pharmacies through to May 24th and must be returned to a participating pharmacy for pathology testing prior to June 7th. The $10 cost for each kit covers the testing and notification of results. So, why not “Get checked”.

Coming Events
• National Volunteer Week, May 12th – 18th
• Biggest Morning Teas will be held in the week beginning May 19th
• National Palliative Care Week, May 25th – 31st
• World No Tobacco Day, May 31st
• June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
• Can Assist meeting, Thurs., June 12th, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - January 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

YWCA Encore program

This valuable program returns soon to the Highlands. Are you aware of this service ? It’s a free gentle exercise program for women who have experienced mastectomy, lumpectomy or breast reconstruction surgery at any time in their lives. The 8-week program – sessions of two hours per week – is based on gentle floor and hydrotherapy exercises specifically designed to improve movement, flexibility and strength after surgery. The sessions also provide time and space for relaxation, information sharing and discussion amongst women who have been through a similar experience. You will find more information online at Bookings are currently being taken for the next program which begins on Wednesday, 19th February at Henley Brae. You can book by telephoning Mandy Lawson on 4868 3246 or the YWCA Encore office on 9285 6264.

Cancer Services Directory coming
Preparation of the 2014 edition of our Directory for the Southern Highlands is well under way and the publication date will be Wednesday, 26th February. The booklet will be available in each copy of that issue of the Southern Highland News. The theme of this year’s edition (our 6th) will be “Support Groups and Services” to assist local cancer patients and their families. Make sure you get your copy.

Movie release
An exclusive screening of the movie “Grace of Monaco” will be held at the Bowral Cinemas. Starring our own Nicole Kidman as Princess Grace and Tim Roth as Prince Rainier, this glimpse of life in Monaco promises a great line-up of stars. Proceeds from the event will go to assist Cancer Council NSW and our own GAPS program. The GAPS volunteer service provides help to cancer patients and carers within their own home and with transport assistance as well. Many thanks to the owners of Bowral Empire Cinemas for their continuing support of our work.
Please note : the screening of this movie has been postponed to a day in June. 
Full details when known.

“High Tea / High Fashion” - SOLD OUT
Sorry if you missed it. This function on February 22nd at Southern Highland Wines, in aid of our local Can Assist branch, is already SOLD OUT. There is an existing waiting list too.

Relay For Life

The Southern Highlands Relay for Life will be happening on Saturday 3rd May, 2014, at Eridge Park Oval. Keep that date free and let’s work for an even bigger event than in 2012. As we announced in November’s column, the website for Southern Highlands Relay for Life 2014 is now operational at and this allows supporters to form a team to take part. So join a team or, better still, start your own. Who will you relay for ?


Coming Events
• February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
• World Cancer Day is on Tuesday, February 4th.
• Can Assist meeting, Thurs, February 13th, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital.
• Cancer Services Directory 2014 will be out on Wednesday, February 26th.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - November 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Martine makes the final cut

Here’s another story to inspire you : Martine Rolff, who is employed at the Robertson Village Pharmacy, plans to cut off her very long hair and donate it so that it can be used to create a wig for someone undergoing treatment for cancer. The big cut is happening at Robertson but please note that it will now take place on Saturday, November 30th. 

Meanwhile, to mark the event and recognise Martine's gesture, collection tins are available at a number of local businesses in Robertson with all the proceeds going to the Southern Highlands branch of Can Assist. The event is being publicised through the mycause website. To find Martine’s webpage, click here . The page will allow for you to contribute online and help her to reach her $1000 target. Donations made to our district's Can Assist branch are used to financially support cancer patients in the Southern Highlands with pharmacy bills, equipment needs, petrol and accommodation subsidies.

For the fundraising result, see our News & Events column.

Wigs from Wollondilly

While on the topic of wigs, did you know how the extensive wig library held at the Southern Highlands Cancer Centre actually came about ? This wig resource was established jointly with funds from the Cancer Support Group from Wollondilly and from the Southern Highlands Cancer Centre Trust Fund. With the $6000 raised, the Wollondilly Support Group also made a cabinet to house the wigs and sample turbans and scarves. From time to time, cancer patients from the Wollondilly Shire receive treatment in the Southern Highlands and they have the backing of their active local support group. 

Meetings are held on the 1st Monday of each month at the Picton Bowling Club at 1.30pm. The Secretary can be contacted through their website :  click here  or by telephoning 46773285.

Cancer figures
Last month I referred to the high rates of cancer in Australia. This month it is worth looking at how this plays out here in the Wingecarribee LGA. Figures from the “Health Profile 2013” document reveal that this district has a higher incidence of cancer than the NSW average (522 per 100,000 population compared with 470 for the state as a whole). For the most common types of cancer – prostate, breast, and colon cancer, plus melanoma - Wingecarribee’s incidence rate was higher than the NSW average, whereas for lung cancer our figure was a little lower. These statistics, from the NSW Cancer Registry and the Cancer Institute NSW, cover the years 2004-2008 and are the latest available statewide. I shall report on the more recent situation when fresh data is finally published.

Relay for Life website now open
The website for the Southern Highlands Relay for Life 2014 event is operational at and this allows supporters to form a team to take part in Relay which will be happening on Eridge Park oval next May 3rd. 
Who will you relay for ?

Coming Events
• November is Movember to raise funds and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer and men’s mental health.
• Martine Rolff’s Good Hair Day occurs at Robertson, Saturday, November 30th.
• December 5th is International Volunteer Day. Have you considered volunteering ?
• Can Assist meeting, Thursday, December 12th, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital.

Future events - two to pencil in :
** On Saturday 22nd February, 2014, a High Tea will be held at Southern Highland Wines. Reserve the date ! This is the major fundraiser of the year for the local branch of Can Assist.
** On Saturday 3rd May, 2014, the district will come together at Eridge Park oval for ‘Relay For Life’. Keep that date free and let’s work for an even bigger event than we had in 2012.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - October 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Australia leads the world :
There have been a number of media items lately concerning cancer in Australia. An international comparison has found that Australia has the highest incidence of cancer in the world. This puts us ahead of New Zealand, North America and Western Europe in terms of cancer rates, and nearly double the global average. We have the highest rate of melanoma and prostate cancer in the world and the third-highest breast cancer rates.

The Cancer Council says one third of cancer deaths in Australia are caused by preventable risk factors. It identifies seven key steps to lower your cancer risk : limit alcohol intake, quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight, exercise, eat for health, be sunsmart and take advantage of cancer screening programs. Readers who wish to know more can find lots of information about all these steps on this website simply by clicking on the Prevention tab above.

Effects of tobacco :
ABC radio ran an interview with the Sax Institute's Professor Emily Banks, who conducts the large scale Australian study known as ‘45 and Up’. Releasing some of the results of the study, which looked at the health records of 200,000 Australians, Prof Banks said : “What we found was that the people who were current smokers had around three times the risk of dying during that period than people who had never smoked. And we also found that increased risk of death varied according to how much people smoked. And among the people who were light smokers, or who would consider themselves light smokers, smoking an average of around 10 cigarettes a day, they still had around double the risk of death compared to someone who had never smoked.”

This study has revealed that the risk of dying from light, casual smoking is much higher than previously thought. The study concluded that the deaths of two-thirds of smokers are linked to their smoking, much higher than the previous estimate of about one in two. You can read the full transcript of that interview on the ABC website. Click here. 

Now for the good news :
Australia also leads the world in cancer survival. This is partly due to the early detection of problems, our high standard of health care and the program of research and clinical studies which have found improved forms of treatment.

Southern Highlands Cancer Centre nominated
A little bird has (modestly) told me that the Cancer Centre within the Private Hospital has been nominated for a Southern Highlands Business Awards in the category of ‘Excellence in Health Care’. I do hope they win – they do a fantastic job for their patients at the Centre. You can learn more about our Cancer Centre via the easy-access Quicklink on the LHS of this screen.

Coming Events
• October is the month for Pink Ribbon action for breast cancer research. Pink Ribbon breakfasts, events and “Girls Night In” are being held on any date this month – watch out for notice of them.
• Oct. 13-19 is Carers Week, celebrating and supporting carers across Australia.
• Oct. 18 is National Bandanna Day, supporting young people against cancer.
• (October also happens to be Dogtober – appreciating our canine pets.)
• Can Assist meeting, Thurs, November 14th, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital.
• Children’s Cancer Charity Dog Club’s Dog Show, Erskine Park, Nov. 15-16. (For more details, please see our blog for September.)
• November becomes Movember – the month of moustaches for men’s health.

Also : There will be a fundraising night at Highlands Tenpin, Mittagong, on Friday, 22nd November, 6-9pm. This is in aid of WHAM, the Wingecarribee Health Association for Men. Full details are in our "News and Events" section - just click on the tab above.

Future events - two to pencil in :
** On Saturday 22nd February, 2014, a High Tea will be held at Southern Highland Wines. Reserve the date ! This is the major fundraiser of the year for the local branch of Can Assist.
** On Saturday 3rd May, 2014, the district will come together at Eridge Park oval for ‘Relay For Life’. Keep that date free and let’s work for an even bigger event than we had in 2012.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - June 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Biggest Morning Tea events
There has been a great response from Southern Highlanders to the Biggest Morning Tea events held at various locations on different days throughout the month of May. These enjoyable community events have traditionally been a valuable way of raising funds for Cancer Council projects while at the same time providing a good excuse to simply get together with friends. Everyone involved deserves praise “because every cup counts”. Many thanks also to Southern Highland News for the excellent coverage, not only after the events, but especially for the comprehensive listing beforehand to publicise where and when they were going to happen.

Community Speaking Visit
On the day after the Southern Highlands Christian School had held their own Biggest Morning Tea, I had the opportunity to pay a visit to the school. It was May 31st – World No Tobacco Day – but I had been invited there to speak to students about how to protect their skin from the various forms of skin cancer. This meant I put on my other hat since I was speaking with students from Year 5 through to Year 12 as part of Cancer Council’s Community Speaking program. 

We looked at matters like UV radiation, the daily UV alert, and how to protect one’s skin with a SunSmart policy. They were a great audience, getting involved in the topics raised and coming up with a bunch of questions which showed that they were engaged in the issues. Other schools, workplaces or community groups who wish to have a presentation on any cancer issue can arrange this by telephoning the Wollongong office on 4223 0200.

Some of the students pictured with me after our meeting (L to R) : Liam Ryde, Adiel Mkolo, Shayla Carl and Nathan Barrett.

Southern Highlands statistics
How do we stand as far as the incidence of cancer in our own district ? Good question - one for which we do have some answers. Using figures supplied by the NSW Central Cancer Registry and the Cancer Institute of NSW, we can say that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in the Southern Highlands, with nearly 60 new cases each year. Melanoma and breast cancer each show approximately 36 new cases each year. The other most common forms are bowel/colorectal and lung cancer.

Have a soft drink ?
I read of one study involving 60,000 participants which found that, if you drank more than two soft drinks each week, your risk of developing pancreatic cancer increased by a surprising 87%. The US-Singapore research pointed to increased sugar consumption as the possible cause, since the same increase was not found with diet soft drinks. (The average can of soft drink contains 7-10 teaspoons of sugar.)

Coming Events
• June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
• Red Aussie Apple Day, June 19th – buy a $2 apple pin plus an apple
• “Call to Arms” AFL games during July – Clash for Cancer
• Can Assist meeting, Thurs, July 11th, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


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