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 - 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


Recent Posts


Can Assist community cancer fund Walk for Breast Cancer bowel cancer Mount Kosciuszko Challenge bowel Dance for Cancer McGrath Foundation Wollondilly Cancer Support Group leukaemia prostate cancer co-payments chemotherapy YWCA Encore Encore program General and Practical Support Cancer Centre oncology Peter Coupland community hospice palliative care breast WHAM haematology transport VIHS portacatheter March Charge Quit Smoking "Thing about cancer" hospice southern highlands cancer services directory prostate Cancer Council Daffodil Day sunsmart cancer research lymphoedema tobacco nicotine daffodil Southern Highlands Community Hospice cancer services directory Wingecarribee men's health month haematologist Local Health District candidates cancers of the blood screening Biggest Morning Tea SWSLHD Summerlees Jai Rowell relay for life DNA breast cancer support group southern highlands cancer leadership committee Bounce Forward bereavement "Saving Life 2019" Southern Highlands Cancer Centre paws pet therapy Rare Cancers Australia Miss Relay pink lymphoma ywcaencore CanAct zumba LG...FB blood cancer smoking rates patient transport smoke free IPTAAS website southern highlands cancer connect cancer committee BowelCare "Connecting the Future" palliative cancer prevention cancer "Light the Night" "forgotten cancers" sharon stewart GAPS Mother's Day Classic accor hotels accommodation breast cancer support group Venice Carnivale Living Well "less common cancers" highlands cancer BMT Portacath cancer support smoking southern highlands business awards Emergency Care community service volunteer prostate cancer support group colon cancer support group Martine Rolff myeloma DonateLife donation preventing cancer Look Good...Feel Better prostate support group e-cigarettes colon cancer melanoma colorectal