Cancer Connections

Beating Cancer in the Highlands ... This column is brought to you regularly by the Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee and is first published in the Lifestyle section of the Southern Highland News. It is designed to inform everybody of matters relating to cancer in our local community and the wider society. We aim to focus on local news, forthcoming events, services and other cancer issues.

Cancer Connections - December 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Donation from Oxley College students
A substantial donation of around $800 has been made by students from Oxley College to the high-profile local charity Can Assist. The funds will go towards their special account “Can Assist Families” which is solely dedicated to channelling support to those families where a member - whether a parent or a child - is affected by cancer. Students and their parents contributed generously again this year as they did previously in 2016. Can Assist’s financial help for families has a particular focus where a parent is a cancer patient unable to work yet still supporting young children. So we can say “Well done” to all those involved at Oxley : students, parents and staff.

Prostate cancer research results
Researchers at Cancer Council NSW have shed light on factors that contribute to a risk of prostate cancer which is one of the most common cancers in Australian men. One in five males can develop the disease before the age of 85. The study carried out during 2016-17 identified those factors that appear to double the risk, such as : having a father with a history of prostate cancer; a previous diagnosis of prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) or benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlargement of the prostate); and the number of sexual partners in a lifetime. Being overweight or obese was also associated with increased risk but to a lesser extent. No association was found between prostate cancer and certain suspected risk factors such as circumcision, vasectomy, vertex balding, erectile function, acne, asthma or diabetes.

Men’s Health month
Another successful round of four sessions was held throughout November with local medical practitioners giving up their time to inform us about their special fields. Put together again by Tom Carroll, Peter van Dort, and the team from WHAM, these evening forums have been very well presented and extremely educational for men and for women too. Many thanks to all concerned : presenters and organisers.

Cancer Services Directory 2018
Current indications are that next year’s issue of our annual Directory will be published a little later, probably in May.

Season’s wishes
At this time of the year, as we prepare to celebrate all our blessings with family and friends, it is well to remember that there are those in our community who are less favoured. Fortunately there are so many in the Southern Highlands district who continually help to earn our reputation for generosity to others, whether by giving financially or by making the time to volunteer. To all those of generous heart, our committee sends a genuine “Thank You” and sincere good wishes for the coming season.

Coming Events
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group will not meet in December or January.
• Can Assist will not meet in January.
• Can Assist fundraiser “Sunday @Centennial”, February 11th. See full details in the News & Events section of this website.
• Next Can Assist meeting will be at BDCU, Bowral, 10am February 13th.
• Next meeting of the Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. Feb. 27.

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 - 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 lesley@lesleymcpherson.com.au


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 carroll.tom747@gmail.com


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 aurelia@ozemail.com.au


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 www.rarecancers.org.au


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 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

• 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 info@sh-cancerconnect.com.au





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Cancer Connections - July 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Prostate cancer outside the cities

Research recently published in the “Medical Journal of Australia” shows that men with prostate cancer in regional and rural areas of NSW have significantly lower survival rates than their city dwelling counterparts. The study looked at the geographic differences in 10-year survival rates for prostate cancer in NSW and found that men living in rural NSW are 32% more likely to die from prostate cancer than men from the city. The good news was that, in the last two decades, 10-year survival rates have increased from 57% to 84%. However the inequality between regional and city survival rates has not reduced.

Why ? Some possible reasons : men from regional and rural areas are less likely to get diagnosed; or less access to services; or a culture of self reliance and independence among men in rural communities leads to less use of available services. All the details of the research report are available, just click here.


Residents in the Southern Highlands who seek information or support on prostate matters can contact our local support group by ringing its organiser, Tom Carroll, on 0419482208.

Daffodil Day, Friday, August 22nd - Show You Care
The golden daffodil, so well-identified with Cancer Council, was chosen as the symbol of hope for all affected by cancer because of its reputation as a hardy annual flower, pushing its way through the earth after a long winter to herald the return of spring, new life, vitality and growth. As one of the first flowers of an approaching spring, the daffodil symbolises rebirth and new beginnings. To Cancer Council, the daffodil represents hope for a cancer-free future. This year the wonderful band of volunteers will be out in our community raising funds on Daffodil Day, Friday, August 22nd. Some collections may take place on nearby days.



Plain packaging of cigarettes is working
An article published on June 24th in the Sydney Morning Herald showed that, contrary to recent misinformation from the tobacco industry, Australia’s world-first introduction of plain packaging is already leading to health benefits. The author, Professor David Currow, is Chief Cancer Officer and CEO, Cancer Institute NSW. He listed two purposes of this long-term public health policy : to reduce the attractiveness of smoking to consumers – most importantly young people – and to increase the visibility of graphic health warnings.

Prof. Currow reported that, since the introduction of plain packaging in 2012, there has been solid, peer-reviewed and transparent evidence of its effectiveness. This is seen in the significantly greater numbers of people calling the Quitline after the introduction of plain packaging and in the increase in smokers' urgency to quit. This is in line with figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing a decline in tobacco sales. The policy, however, is a measure designed to work as part of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy and its full efficacy should be observed over time.

Community Hospice forum

Do you have questions you would like answered about death and dying, but you've never known who to ask ? Here is advance notice of an information forum being organised by Southern Highlands Community Hospice Inc. They have come up with a striking title : “Dying To Know Day” and it will be held at the Mittagong RSL Club, 10am to 3pm on Saturday, August 23rd. Full details are provided in our News & Events item click here, or visit the hospice website at http://shchospice.org.au


Coming Events
• “Dry July” is a month for raising funds for families with cancer
• “Call to Arms” in July - football teams support action against cancer
• Jeans for Genes Day is on Friday, August 1st
• Can Assist meeting, Thurs., August 14th, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital.
• Daffodil Day will raise funds for Cancer Council on Friday, August 22nd
• Community Hospice “Dying To Know Day”, Mittagong RSL, 10am-3pm Aug. 23rd

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


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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 http://relay.cancercouncil.com.au/ 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 info@sh-cancerconnect.com.au


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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 info@sh-cancerconnect.com.au




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