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 - March 2018

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Patient Transport Drivers’ celebration
Mittagong RSL was the venue for a celebration provided for the volunteer drivers who take cancer patients in the Cancer Council bus up to Campbelltown and back for anything up to five days per week. The function was held to mark the 10 year anniversary of this necessary service for Wingecarribee patients being treated at the Macarthur Cancer Therapy centre. It also recognised the achievement of Terry Liebmann who has been the volunteer local co-ordinator of the drivers for all that time. Terry has now stepped down from that role and the celebration acknowledged his essential contribution. I was able to call in for part of the event and what was impressive was the large group of drivers involved, men and women, and the great spirit which clearly exists between them. Maybe this explains the striking fact that, of the 12 original volunteers, 8 of them are still taking part after 10 years. Their excellent assistance to patients has been further recognised by the fact that Cancer Council has just provided a brand new bus to replace the original one.

Pictured above are the team of bus drivers who make the system work. 

Retiring co-ordinator, Terry Liebmann, is standing 5th from the right.

Rotary BowelCare program
I have received word from BowelCare Australia that their voluntary screening program carried out under the auspices of the Rotary Club of East Gosford will be operating all through April and May this year. This means that anytime in those two months people can purchase a BowelCare test kit for $15 from local pharmacies. The price includes pathology testing, with notification of your result to both yourself and your nominated doctor. Your result will be issued within 30 days of your test kit being received by pathology. Most of our local pharmacies take part in the program and a full listing is available on the website

Blood Cancer Support Group

For some time now, people who are blood cancer patients in the Southern Highlands have had support available through The Leukaemia Foundation. Part of this help involved the benefit of having a blood cancer support group which was co-ordinated by Rachael Seath. A new co-ordinator has now been appointed to that role : Snezana Djordjevic and she can be contacted at the Leukaemia Foundation’s Wollongong office on 4222 0601. Their useful website is at and their email address is

Cancer Services Directory 2018
On the same theme, the 2018 issue of our Southern Highlands Cancer Services Directory will have as its focus the important topic of blood cancers. A number of special articles will cover aspects of this lesser-known area of the cancer field with the lead article written by a haematologist. Our Directory will be published in May this year in an issue of the Southern Highland News as one of their Special Publications. Anyone wishing to advertise in that A5 booklet can contact the sales staff at the News office on 4861 2333.

New Co-ordinator for GAPS

A quick mention that we now have Cheryl Hinton assisting with the co-ordination of the GAPS program. Cheryl is a most welcome recruit since she provides relief for Joan Harrison who has fulfilled that role so well over so many years. You can read more about the General and Practical Support service here on this website; just go to the QuickLink on the LHS of screen. The GAPS contact number remains the same : 0428681926 M-F, 9am-5pm.

Coming Events
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. March 27 RSVP Katie
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, March 28
• Can Assist Meeting at BDCU Bowral, 10am, April 10

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


Cancer Connections - April 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The removal of chemo co-payments

An end is now in sight for the practice of some public hospitals charging cancer patients a co-payment for their chemotherapy. At other public hospitals, these drugs were provided at no charge, creating a bit of a lottery depending on where you happened to be treated. The recent NSW election has brought about the change. After the ALP promised to abolish the co-payment, the Baird Government made the same commitment and then went on to include charges for the drugs for treatment of HIV, hepatitis, cystic fibrosis and organ transplants as well. We now await an announcement of when these fees will no longer be charged.

Cancer Services Directory 2015 now available

With the publication of this year’s Southern Highlands Cancer Services Directory inside the Southern Highland News last month, we have been getting feedback and reactions to the new format. This has been the first time in our 7 years of issuing the Directory that it has been combined with the Southern Highlands Health Guide in one booklet. The responses so far have been most positive about the change to a two-cover “flip” booklet and its A5 format also remains popular. Missed your copy ? Some spare copies are available from the Cancer Centre within the private hospital. As well as that, the whole Directory can now be viewed online from this website simply by clicking on the Directory tab above.

BowelCare Program

I have received word that the well known bowel screening program run by BowelCare Australia will be using a new test kit this year. The kits, which are distributed to pharmacies throughout our district by Rotary, will use the updated technology of a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) to screen for occult blood. Participating pharmacies in the Southern Highlands should have the new kits available from May 2nd (if not earlier) through to June 27th. The $15 cost for each kit covers pathology testing and notification of results to both you and your nominated doctor.

Bowel cancer refers to a cancer in any part of the large bowel (the colon or the rectum). It is sometimes also known as colorectal cancer. Bowel cancer grows from the inner lining of the bowel and may develop from growths on the bowel wall called polyps. Polyps are usually benign (or harmless), but they may become malignant (cancerous) over time. Information from Cancer Council NSW indicates that bowel cancer is the second most common cancer affecting people in Australia with nearly 17,000 diagnosed with the disease in one year. About one in 17 men and one in 25 women will develop bowel cancer before the age of 75. So, why not “get checked” ?

Cancer Research News

Did you know that Cancer Council NSW spent $14.2 million in the 2013/14 financial year on research into various aspects of cancer ? The total amount invested in their world-class research over the last 10 years has been more than $130m. That’s made possible by the combined efforts of communities like our own across NSW, raising funds to go towards cancer research, prevention, information and support services. What is important here is that this is the only organisation putting funds towards the support of all cancers. Research also helps to prioritise the areas where we can have the greatest impact, so this enhances the outcomes for current and future cancer patients.

Coming Events

• “Field of Women”, Melbourne, May 9
• Mothers Day Classic at Bong Bong Racecourse, 3km walk & 5km run, May 10
• National Volunteer Week, May 11-17
• Can Assist meeting, Thurs. May 14, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital
• Biggest Morning Tea, Thurs. May 28 or on nearby dates. The local Cancer Centre will be holding their Biggest Morning Tea on Monday 25th

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - February 2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Greater support for regional patients

It was encouraging to learn of a commitment made by the NSW Liberal and National parties to implement further improvements to the IPTAAS scheme. This is the Isolated Patient Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme which provides assistance to those rural and regional patients who need to travel a long distance in NSW for medical treatment. The enhanced program being proposed would see an increase in the petrol subsidy, increases in the accommodation subsidy rates, and a reduction in the patient co-payment. Commitments were given that, if re-elected, the Government would also simplify the IPTAAS forms, make some further services eligible for claims, and make the claims process itself much easier for people to use. It is hoped that the State Opposition will give a similar undertaking to match these improvements.

Our Patron the Mayor

The Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee is very pleased to announce that the Mayor of Wingecarribee Shire, Duncan Gair, has accepted the position of Patron of the committee. In indicating his willingness to fulfill this role, the Mayor acknowledged that the Cancer Leadership Committee’s annual Cancer Services Directory is a very important publication assisting all those affected by cancer in our shire.

Cancer research

In a new study by Cancer Research UK, almost half the participants did not see their GP despite suffering cancer "alarm" warning signs. Commenting on the study, Professor Sandro Porceddu, a radiation oncologist and clinical advisor to Cancer Council Australia, says one in two Australians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. This is not meant as a scary statistic; it is not a cause for alarm so much as a call for awareness. "In Australia, we have one of the highest cancer survival rates in the world," Professor Porceddu says. "If detected early, we have a much greater chance of surviving." For instance, did you know that an Australian dies of melanoma every six hours. Every two and a half hours someone dies of bowel cancer, yet 90% of such deaths would have been prevented if detected early.

The conclusion from these findings is that, if you have a concern about a health problem which has not gone away, consult your GP. Early detection saves lives.

Bounce Forward !

The valuable initiative ‘Bounce Forward’ (previously called ‘Living Well’) is a two-day program which will be held at the Southern Highlands Private Hospital on Saturday and Sunday, 21st and 22nd March. To find out more or to make a booking, contact Jo Pearson, the Nursing Unit Manager at the Cancer Centre, on 4862 9472.

Cancer Services Directory 2015

Our material for this year’s edition of the Southern Highlands Directory is ready for publication. For this year our focus is going to centre on cancer within families and what help is available for families in that situation. A big change from previous years will see the booklet combined with the Southern Highlands Health Guide to make a super-sized health issue for 2015. Publication date will be Wednesday, March 25th with your free copy available in that day’s Southern Highland News. Don’t miss it. To place an advertisement in the new bumper booklet, please contact the News sales team on 4861 2333.

Coming Events

• February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Hold an “afternoon teal” in February to support Ovarian Cancer Australia. Their website is :

• Teal Ribbon Day, fundraising for ovarian cancer programs, is on Feb. 25th
• Can Assist meeting, Thurs. March. 12th, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital
• ‘Bounce Forward’ program, Sat.-Sun., March 21-22. Details above.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - April 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cancer Services Directory 2014 now available online

The 6th edition of the Southern Highlands Cancer Services Directory was recently published in the Southern Highland News. The text articles for this year’s issue were provided by the Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee. Following a theme of “Support Groups and Services”, we have included all the information we have on what help is available locally for cancer patients and their families. Reception of the booklet has been most favourable. If you missed that issue, copies of the 24-page A5 booklet are still available from the Southern Highlands Cancer Centre within the private hospital. As well as that, a copy of all of the 2014 Directory has been placed on this website under the Directory tab above and available to download in pdf.

Committee loses Kate Partington

At our April meeting, the Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee said our farewell to one of our longer serving members, Kate Partington. Currently the Nursing Unit Manager within the Wingecarribee Community Health Centre, Kate had to tell us that this would be her last meeting since she will be transferring out of the district. The committee thanked Kate warmly for her contribution to our work, particularly her advice, her knowledge of health services and personnel, and her ability to identify gaps in health services to patients. Kate’s new position will be as Community Aged Care Manager with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and we all wish her every success in her new role.

BowelCare Australia Program for 2014

We have been informed of the 2014 details for this valuable program, which is organised by Rotary. Participating pharmacies in the Southern Highlands will have the kits available from April 26th (if not earlier) through to May 24th. The completed kits 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. From the 2013 BowelCare Program, 78 people were detected with bowel cancer or polyps and another 152 positive results are pending investigation. 
So, why not “Get checked”.

Relay For Life 2014

Relay for Life returns to the Southern Highlands on Saturday 3rd May at Eridge Park Oval and runs through to Sunday morning. Keep that date free and let’s work for an even bigger event than in 2012. The themes for Relay are “Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back !” and proceeds support the many worthwhile activities of Cancer Council NSW. To go to the website for Relay just click here This site will allow supporters to form a team to take part. You can join a team or, better still, start your own. Who will you relay for ?

Mother’s Day Classic

The inaugural Bowral Mother's Day Classic Walk for Breast Cancer will be held on Bong Bong Racecourse on Sunday, May 11th, starting at 9.30 a.m. Proceeds go towards the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The event offers a 3km walk for participation; it is not a timed race. For all details, registration closing dates and how to enter, go to

Coming Events

• BowelCare kits available at pharmacies, April 26th to May 24th
• Relay For Life, Eridge Park Oval, Sat. May 3rd through to Sun. morning
• Can Assist meeting, Thurs., May 8th, 10am at the old Bowral Hospital.
• Mother’s Day Classic Walk for Breast Cancer, Bong Bong Racecourse, May 11, 9.30am
• International Nurses Day, May 12th (Florence Nightingale’s birthdate)
• National Volunteer Week, May 12th – 18th
• Biggest Morning Tea, week beginning May 19th

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


Cancer Connections - March 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

BowelCare program

One method to have a regular screening to detect the possibility of bowel cancer has been the BowelCare program. This involves a simple process which can be done at home to carry out a faecal occult blood test (FOBT). In Australia about 4,400 people die from bowel cancer each year, yet, if detected early, this is one cancer which is curable in so many cases. So, "Get checked !"

Rotary Club of East Gosford which organises the distribution of BowelCare test kits has informed us that they are now resuming their program for 2013 with the same testing kit they have employed in the past. 

Latest information :
Southern Highlands pharmacies will have the kits available from May 4th (if not earlier) to June 1st and should be receiving their supplies in late April. The last day for returning the kit for pathology testing is June 15th.

Council makes outdoor dining areas smoke-free
After community consultation Wingecarribee Shire Council voted in February to extend its Smoke Free Outdoor Areas Policy. This change ensures that outdoor dining areas on Council-managed lands (for example footpaths, plazas) will become smoke-free later this year. Council adopted the proposal as recommended in the Council officers’ report and in the knowledge that NSW legislation will bring in a statewide ban on smoking in such dining areas from July 2015.

Outdoor dining areas will become smoke-free in Wingecarribee in two stages : From July 1, 2013, the policy will apply to all Council-managed businesses throughout the shire, excluding those in Corbett Plaza. From November 8, 2013, the policy will apply to all Council-managed businesses in Corbett Plaza so that uniform licence conditions can apply there at the same time. (For further background on this issue, click on the QuickLink for “Smoke-free Outdoor Areas Policy” on the LHS of screen.)

These measures will have the positive effect of reducing the amount of secondhand smoke inhaled by non-smokers. While no-one will be prevented from smoking tobacco, it means they cannot do so in outdoor situations where they could adversely affect the health of others. NSW Health reports that smoking causes around 5,200 deaths and 44,000 hospitalisations in this State alone each year.

Cancer Services Directory 2013
This year’s edition of our Cancer Services Directory for the Southern Highlands was published last month in this newspaper. The feedback received for this issue containing numerous articles on men’s health has been most favourable. From several quarters we have had the question : “Can I still get hold of a copy ?” Newspaper staff report that surplus copies are very limited indeed. So if you did not pick up a copy on the day of issue, you may have to try your luck at the Southern Highland News office, the Cancer Centre within the Private Hospital or the Highlands Community Centre at Stafford Cottage, Bendooley Street, Bowral. Naturally, we ask those people who do have the booklet to support those firms who supported the project by taking out advertising space.

Coming Events
• World Health Day, April 7th 2013 Focus : “High blood pressure”
• Can Assist meeting, 10am Thurs, April 11th at the old Bowral Hospital

Grahame Hackett (Chair, SHCLC)
0407 234 780 or


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