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 - 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 - June 2017

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

“Connecting the Future” seminar success

This event was organised for Palliative Care Week by the Southern Highlands Community Hospice committee. Speakers included Dr Yvonne McMaster OAM, the retired palliative care specialist who initiated the “Push for Palliative” campaign, and Jane Mahony, a local senior nurse consultant in the field. An audience numbering about 80 heard informative presentations from both and later gained an insight into current planning for the hospice building to be constructed in Bowral. The draft drawings for the building were on display and stimulated much discussion.

Visit of the Premier to Bowral
June 6 saw the visit by Premier Gladys Berejiklian to the Southern Highlands. A public meeting of 200 locals was hosted by Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell at the Bradman Museum and provided an opportunity for the Premier to speak personally about how she saw her role and to tell us how much she admired all the community work going on in our district.
As I had hoped, I did have an opportunity, after the formal items were over, to speak with the Premier as she mingled. Naturally I wanted to raise the issue of greater resources for palliative care and briefly touched on the main points why this was badly needed. The Premier clearly understands the reasons anyway and nodded as I spoke before she promptly replied : “Grahame, watch this space”.

Announcement on palliative care
Our Cancer Leadership Committee members certainly did “watch this space” and were soon able to see that Gladys had kept her word. On Monday June 12 the NSW Government announced that a record $100 million would be spent over the next four years to increase palliative care services. Out of the numerous benefits which will flow from this extra funding I will just select one : this will mean a much needed improvement in the provision of palliative care throughout regional and rural NSW, areas which have been substantially less well serviced so far. So there is some cause for a sense of achievement among all those who supported this issue : volunteers for Cancer Council NSW; those who “signed the pledge”; those who backed Dr McMaster’s campaign; and ultimately those State MPs from all parties who saw there must be a better way to care for people with a life-limiting illness.
For the latest details on what the Government has announced, please go to our 'News & Events' tab above for the item "Premier's visit to Bowral".



New Car for GAPS drivers !
Here’s a big boost to our free GAPS service to cancer patients – the one which sees those dedicated volunteers driving cancer patients to consultations and treatment and using their own cars to do it. Cancer Council NSW have come good on their promise to provide GAPS drivers with a brand new car. From now on, the “first cab off the rank” you will see transporting a patient – and sometimes the trips are to Liverpool or Concord and back – will be the Toyota RAV4 with its Cancer Council logo. Here is another way in which our community benefits directly from raising funds at events like “Relay for Life” and the hugely successful “Dance for Cancer”.



PAWS Pet Therapy celebration

A dinner will be held by the PAWS Pet Therapy enthusiasts on Saturday July 22 at Centennial Vineyards. Details are on this website under the News & Events tab. This is an innovative organisation of dog owners who take their beautiful pets into hospitals and nursing homes to bring cheer to so many. They can always accommodate more pet lovers so if you and your dog can volunteer, ring Sharon Stewart on 4681 0499.


Coming Events
• June is Bowel Cancer Awareness month
• July is Dry July

• Can Assist meeting Tuesday, July 11, 10am at BDCU, Bowral

• PAWS Pet Therapy function, Centennial Vineyards, July 22, 5-10pm. Details above.
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. July 25 RSVP Katie on 4862 9400
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, Wed. July 26

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


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Cancer Connections - December 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Cancer Services Directory 2016

Our Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee is currently planning next year’s Directory which will be published in the Southern Highland News in March. If you provide a service for cancer patients or carers and you would like to be given a free listing for the very first time, or if you wish to make an alteration to your current listing, please get in touch with me. Contact details are below.

Meeting with Jai Rowell
In late November I had a meeting with the State member for Wollondilly, Jai Rowell. This was in my role as the Cancer Council MP Liaison for that electorate. The role provides the opportunity to take up current cancer issues with the local member. On this occasion I raised two very important matters : the need for better services for lymphoedema patients, especially having more specialist lymphoedema therapists, and the continuing drive to increase the number of Aboriginal workers in NSW cancer services in order to improve outcomes for Aboriginal cancer patients. Jai was most supportive indeed and undertook to contact the Minister for Health on both of these issues.

Paws Pet Therapy thankyou
Following up on an item in last month’s column : Christmas parties are all the go at present, of course. But earlier this month I dropped in for a little while at a Christmas get together which was different to the usual, since half the partygoers were dogs. On a sunny Saturday at a local park, under the shade of big old trees, volunteers for Paws Pet Therapy gathered, along with their (leashed) dogs, for a big “Thank You” luncheon for everyone, organised by their team leader, Sharon Stewart.

Men’s Health Forums
I was able to go along to three of the November men’s health forums held in Bowral. They were very well-attended and the high quality of the presentations from local medicos and health professionals meant that those men, and women, attending the sessions learnt a great deal. Congratulations go to Tom Carroll, Peter van Dort, and Wingecarribee Health Association for Men (WHAM) for the excellent series of talks. 

Pictured : Assoc. Prof. Stephen Della-Fiorentina addressing the first men's forum. Stephen is the medical oncologist at the Cancer Centre and is also a foundation member of the Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee.

The next fundraiser for WHAM will be a Highlands Tenpin event on Friday, March 18. For bookings and information, telephone 4871 1600.

Season’s greetings
Christmas is a great time to recognise all the good efforts of so many folk in our district who help others. Time to pause and reflect on the many achievements recorded during the last twelve months and then to look forward to what more can be done by our combined efforts next year. Sincere greetings of the season to all our volunteers and supporters throughout the district who do so much to benefit those with cancer.

Coming Events
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group’s next meeting at the private hospital will be at 10am on Dec. 22. RSVP Jo or Katie on 4862 9470
• Please note : our local Can Assist does not hold a branch meeting in January.
Next meeting will be on February 11th, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital
• World Cancer Day will be on Thursday, February 4th

• February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Hold an afternoon tea in February to support Ovarian Cancer Australia. Their website is at  https://ovariancancer.net.au/

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

• Highlands Tenpin event in aid of men’s health forums, Fri. March 18. See item above.
• Relay For Life 2016 on Sat.-Sun. April 2-3 at Moss Vale Showground

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





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Cancer Connections - November 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Community Cancer Fund now launched

On Thursday, November 12th, along with five other members of our committee, I was fortunate to be present at the Milk Factory Gallery for an important event. On that evening the Southern Highlands Community Cancer Fund was launched by Dr Brendan Nelson, a past President of the AMA, before a large audience of well-wishers. This new fund is being established by Bowral residents, Richard and Kate Vines, who have already achieved so much in the field of cancer support and information through their creation of Rare Cancers Australia (RCA). You can find out more about how this new initiative will assist cancer patients - and how Richard and Kate’s work has already helped people with rare and less common cancers - by visiting their website at  www.rarecancers.org.au or by calling in at the RCA office in Springetts Arcade.


Paws Pet Therapy in action
Did you know that there are currently 30 volunteers supported by Paws Pet Therapy to provide a professional pet assisted therapy service to facilities in the Southern Highlands and several other regions ? In our own district, Paws teams make weekly visits to aged care services and disability groups, and provide daily visits to the Southern Highlands Cancer Centre. 

Clad in purple, the Paws Pet Therapy teams provide comfort to people undergoing chemotherapy and also to their families and hard-working Cancer Centre staff. They can also decrease blood pressure and alleviate anxiety in patients. Feedback from the Cancer Centre staff, patients and families has been extremely positive, and all look forward to a doggie smile and a friendly wag of the tail every day.

The founder of Paws Pet Therapy, Sharon Stewart, is pictured here with Rocky.

If you would like to find out more about the benefits of pet therapy, or would like to book a visit, please check out their website at www.pawspettherapy.com , contact  sharon.paws@hotmail.com  or telephone 4681 0499. Or you could call to have a chat about volunteering or sponsorship opportunities.


Accor Hotels accommodation support
A new partnership has been announced by Cancer Council NSW and AccorHotels which will bring help to some local cancer patients. The new scheme will provide Southern Highlands cancer patients with reduced rate accommodation options when they are required to travel to Sydney for their cancer treatment. This partnership will complement the current NSW Government’s Isolated Patients Transport and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS). The service will be available across 62 AccorHotels properties close to treatment facilities in greater Sydney and other locations across NSW. The overall financial burden of cancer will be reduced for these patients when they claim the commercial IPTAAS rate on these rooms. More details about this scheme can be obtained from Sally Hudson, Community Programs Co-ordinator at Cancer Council NSW, by telephoning 4223 0205.

Relay For Life 2016

Advance notice is out that next year’s Southern Highlands Relay For Life will be held at the Moss Vale Showground instead of Eridge Park Oval. The organising committee is already at work to have everything ready for Saturday, April 2. Relay is only held every second year and after the great success in 2014, in which our Southern Highlands community contributed so generously for Cancer Council NSW, people are looking forward to another excellent event. This time Relay will run from 12pm Saturday until 12pm Sunday - which should be a timing to suit most people. It’s now possible to form a team or to join an existing team. Just go to the website  www.relayforlife.org.au and choose the Southern Highlands page. If you won’t be in the district on that date, the page also has a facility for you to donate. Relay is also on Facebook.


Coming Events

• Men’s Health Month continues, 6pm Mondays at St Judes : Nov. 23 & 30. Full details can be found in our 'News and Events' section of this website.

• “Bounce Forward” program will be on Nov. 28-29. All the details can be found in our 'News and Events' section of this website.

• Dec. 5 is International Volunteer Day celebrating the fantastic work by so many
• Can Assist meeting Dec. 10, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital
• Relay For Life 2016 on Sat.-Sun. April 2-3 at Moss Vale Showground.

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



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