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 - April 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Can Assist Luncheon
The Southern Highlands’ many supporters of Can Assist will be gathering at Bowral Golf Club for lunch on Sunday, May 5. With well known Australian comedian and entertainer, Anthony Ackroyd, as the guest speaker, a beautiful venue looking over the fairway, and all profits going to our local branch of Can Assist, it’s no wonder places are selling fast. To reserve your place at the table, ring Aurelia on 0474 647 506 or email aurelia@ozemail.com.au Oh, and don’t forget the raffle being run in conjunction with the luncheon. Winners for great prizes will be drawn on the day. Look out for tickets (only $2 each) when on sale outside supermarkets – Woolworths and Coles in Bowral and IGA at Moss Vale.

Rare Cancers Australia’s Kosi Challenge
The annual climb of Mount Kosciuszko by enthusiastic followers of Rare Cancers Australia was held this year early in March. The additional activity this time was an inaugural “Parliament to Peak” cycle ride, organised by keen local cyclist, Zac Hulm. Always a big fundraiser for RCA, Kosi Challenge 2019 was able to raise over $278,000 for the their programs in aid of people with rare or less common cancers. RCA continues to progress and grow, exemplified by their move into larger offices in Springetts Arcade. The greater space will enable the national organisation to provide the new patient care program which is being rolled out with substantial funding from the Federal Government.

Meeting with Stephen Jones, MP
I had the chance early in April to sit down with Kate Vines from Rare Cancers Australia to discuss the ALP Medicare cancer plan with the Federal member for Whitlam. We were able to take up some issues about the details of the plan and how it would be implemented. The listing of more cancer medications on the PBS should see some relief for people living with cancer when it comes to their pharmaceutical bills. Mr Jones was keen to find out more about the kinds of out-of-pocket expenses incurred by patients during treatment.

Myeloma Australia forms support group
The first meeting of a new support group will be held on Friday, 3rd May. This is an initiative of Myeloma Australia to provide support for people living with myeloma, their family and friends. The venue is Bowral CWA rooms with the meeting 10am-12pm on Friday, May 3. For more information, ring Geo Sobrio on 0420823420.

Changes at our committee
From time to time, circumstances change and committed members of our Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership team have to move on. We regret to say that this has happened for both Mira Glavan and Heather Parkes - Mira having transferred to a new position with NSW Health and Heather concentrating on her work with the Bong Bong Race Committee. The Committee sincerely thanks both for their valuable contributions to our work.

Latest news : A new lymphoedema unit has been opened in Bowral Public Hospital.

Coming Events
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. April 23, RSVP Katie
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12pm, Wed. April 24
• Myeloma Australia first meeting of Support Group, Bowral CWA rooms, 10am-12pm, Fri. May 3

• Can Assist Luncheon at Bowral Golf Club, 12 noon, Sun. May 5. For tickets : ring 0474 647 506 or email : aurelia@ozemail.com.au

• Can Assist Meeting, Mittagong RSL, 10am May 14
• Dance event “Stars of the Highlands”, Mittagong RSL, 6.30pm May 17. For tickets : ring 4872 6700.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee)
0407 234 780 or info@sh-cancerconnect.com.au


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Cancer Connections - February 2019

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Saving Life 2019

The campaign launched by Cancer Council for the 2019 NSW election is now well under way. Each time there is a State election, a series of questions is put to the candidates of the major parties which might form the new government.

This year the campaign is entitled “Saving Life 2019” and in the lead up to the March 23rd poll candidates will be asked whether they are prepared to give their support to each of these asks :

1) Strengthen the Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 to ensure that people working or socialising in a bar or club in NSW are protected from second-hand smoke.

2) Amend the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008 to ban tobacco vending machines and introduce an annual licence fee to encourage retailers to stop selling. These measures will reduce the risk of young people developing this fatal habit and support smokers to quit. 

3) Remove junk food advertising from state owned property to reduce children’s exposure; and support national regulations on food marketing to children.
 
4) Provide funding for public lymphoedema services across NSW to ensure that people with lymphoedema have timely access to evidence-based care, regardless of where they live.

In my role as the MP Liaison person between Cancer Council and the candidates in the seat of Wollondilly, I will ask the aspirants for the Liberal and Labor parties (Nathaniel Smith and Jo-Ann Davidson respectively) to respond to these four questions. Their answers will be posted here. Since there is a possibility that the independent Judith Hannan could be elected after preferences are distributed, I shall record her responses as well.

(Further explanation about each of these campaign issues can be found on the website of Cancer Council NSW.)

The candidates’ responses are summarised below. Naturally, they were not all familiar with the four issues raised by the Cancer Council campaign. That was part of the exercise – to have them engage with those issues and consider giving their support. I gave each a copy of the “Saving Life 2019” booklet so that they could look more closely at the proposals and the evidence-based case for them.

On (1) above :
All three candidates readily agreed with strengthening the Smoke-free Environment Act.

On (2) above :
* Nathaniel was not sure yet. He first wanted to check out which Government department or agency is responsible for tobacco vending machines and who would operate a licence system.
* Jo-Ann did not oppose this one but was concerned about one aspect which she raised : “If the smaller retailers stop selling tobacco, that will mean that the two big supermarket chains will gain an even bigger monopoly in tobacco sales”.
* Judith promptly agreed with the proposal.

On (3) above :
* Nathaniel was cautious at first on this but agreed it would be worthwhile, especially in coping with the food industry lobby groups.
* Jo-Ann agreed. She did raise an issue of federal vs state responsibilities in the area of food marketing.
* Judith supported the proposal.

On (4) above :
All three candidates readily agreed with providing increased funding for public lymphoedema services. All saw that it was a matter of finding the money to do it.




Mount Kosciuszko Challenge

Rare Cancers Australia is holding its Mount Kosciuszko Challenge & inaugural “Parliament to Peak” cycle ride in March. This climb to the summit has become an enjoyable annual event for Rare Cancers Australia and its supporters as well as being a significant fundraiser for the organisation. Last year saw 500 people take part. The actual climb from Thredbo to the peak will happen Saturday March 2. But this year there is an exciting new additional (optional) activity, no doubt due to the involvement of cycling enthusiast, Zac Hulm, within RCA. The P2P Cycle Challenge component, for those who are up for it, will leave Parliament House in Canberra on the morning of February 28th, stay overnight in Cooma, then ride along the Monaro Highway and up the Alpine Way to finish in Thredbo Village on the afternoon of March 1st. Full details of the climb itself and what it involves, and the cycle ride, can be found by visiting the RCA website at www.rarecancers.org.au


March Charge for Cancer Council

Walk or run, in a team or do it solo. It’s your Charge and your choice. The March Charge is a fun personal fitness challenge that has an enormous impact on how cancer is researched and treated. Just by walking or running for Cancer Council this March, and by raising funds, you can help Charge ahead with cancer research, prevention, advocacy and support services. The work of Cancer Council NSW is spread across the whole range of various forms of cancer. You can choose to go solo or get your friends, family, and colleagues together and do it as a team – it’s up to you. Charge anywhere and at anytime you like. You can Charge in the morning with your family or walk with your colleagues at lunch. Find out more about how to get organised at the Cancer Council NSW website : www.cancercouncil.com.au



Community Wellness Festival

A “Rhythm of Life” event will be held in March in the beautiful grounds of Retford Park, Old South Road, Bowral. As you know, James Fairfax AC gifted his grand home and surrounding gardens to the National Trust who are making the site available for selected community events. On the weekend of March 9-10, a Community Wellness Festival will be held to promote awareness of various practices which stem from Eastern philosophies of wellbeing. Local practitioners and individuals will be on hand to highlight their approaches to healthy living. An exhibition from a private collection of Indian and Asian art, textiles and artefacts will also be on display. Contact details : email to retfordpark@nationaltrust.com.au or telephone 02 4861 1933.


Coming Events
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. Feb. 26 RSVP Katie
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, Wed. Feb. 27
• March has the March Charge for Cancer Council – see details above
• Mount Kosciuszko Challenge for RCA, Sat. March 2 – see details above
• Community Wellness Festival, Retford Park, 10am-4pm March 9 & 10
• Can Assist Meeting, Mittagong RSL, 10am March 12
• Watch out for the next Southern Highlands Can Assist event – details next month, here in this column and on our website.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee)
0407 234 780 or info@sh-cancerconnect.com.au


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Cancer Connections - October 2018

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Saving Life 2019
As the March 2019 NSW election looms closer, some campaign issues are already taking shape. While transport troubles appear to have transfixed many Sydneysiders, those of us living outside the capital can afford to focus on broader matters. On the health policy front, an important issue will be Cancer Council’s call for a future State Government – whichever party is elected - to act on “Saving Life 2019”. That campaign focuses on four areas : reducing junk food advertising; removing tobacco vending machines; introducing a tobacco retail licence fee; and improving funding for lymphoedema services.

In late September I met with Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell and his Electoral Secretary, Tracey Watkins, to raise these questions and present them with copies of the Saving Life booklet. During our discussion of all four asks, Mr Rowell was most supportive on the issues and readily signed the postcard which calls on the Premier to act. I was even more impressed with his willingness to take up those matters within the Liberal Party room. To see further detail on how Cancer Council wants to reduce the impact of cancer in our communities, visit their website at www.cancercouncil.com.au and search “Saving Life 2019”.




Relay for Life Southern Highlands 2018

Relay is a chance for the Southern Highlands community to recognise and celebrate local cancer survivors, patients and their carers, to honour and remember loved ones lost to cancer and to raise money to help save more lives. This year it will be on Moss Vale Showground Sat. October 20, commencing at 11 am. Funds raised at Relays go towards Cancer Council’s vital research, prevention, information and support services. To join up or donate, just Google "relay for life southern highlands 2018". Or you can contact the co-ordinator, Kelly Dinnerville, at Kelly.Dinnerville@nswcc.org.au or telephone (02) 42230242. You could join one of the existing teams or start one of your own with some friends or colleagues. Who will you relay for ?



Men’s Health Month

A forum on issues affecting men’s health will be held on each Monday in November, starting at 6pm sharp at St Jude’s Auditorium. The series, again organised by Tom Carroll, will commence on Mon. Nov. 5. Full program details are on this website - just click on the item under the "News & Events" tab.


Results from Can Assist film night
The movie night fundraiser for Can Assist produced a very good result for the local charity. With proceeds from ticket sales and accompanying raffle, it produced a net result of $3,600 which will all go towards supporting local cancer patients. We again received great assistance from New Empire Cinemas, FISH (Film in the Southern Highlands), and our other sponsors. Many thanks are due to the reliable band of Can Assist volunteers who helped to make the event run smoothly and the many supporters who attended on the night. Special thanks must go to Aurelia and John who made the whole thing possible.
Just in : Aurelia reports that Can Assist has been given a most generous donation from the Moss Vale Ladies Golf Day : $5,200. What a wonderful boost for patients! Many thanks.

Coming Events
• Pink Ribbon Day can be any day in October in support of women with breast or gynaecological cancer. With Halloween coming, Rare Cancers is running “scare4rare” activities. And October is also Dogtober, Ocsober, and Walktober.
• National Carer’s Week will be held Oct. 16 to 22.

• YWCA Encore program, Mittagong, Wednesdays, Oct. 17 to Dec. 5. Details are on this website; look for the sub-menu under the "Local Services" tab.

• Relay for Life Southern Highlands 2018, Moss Vale Showground, 11am Sat. Oct. 20 to 21.
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. Oct.. 23 RSVP Katie
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, Oct. 24
• 26th Oct. is National Bandanna Day for CanTeen

• 26th Oct. is RCA Halloween Charity Ball in Sydney Town Hall. All details on RCA website at http://www.rarecancers.org.au

• Men’s Health forum each Monday of November, starting Nov 5, 6pm at St Jude’s
• Can Assist Meeting at Mittagong RSL Club, 10am Nov. 13.
• A “Bouncing Forward Now” program will be held soon. Ring the Cancer Centre for details.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee)
0407 234 780 or info@sh-cancerconnect.com.au


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Cancer Connections - February 2018

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Haematology services improved

Readers of this blog will know that our Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee, aided by good publicity in the Southern Highland News, has long advocated for an improvement to haematology services in our district. Having commenced our campaign way back in 2011, we can at last recognise that success has arrived. From January this year, public patients can now have a consultation with a specialist haematologist at the Cancer Centre within the Southern Highlands Private Hospital and, more importantly, public patients can now receive their treatment there as well. This is a most significant advance since previously they were required to travel to Liverpool for every treatment.


The successful outcome for uninsured patients would not have been achieved without the sustained backing of Prof Geoff Delaney, Director, Cancer Services, South West Sydney Local Health District. The initiative has also been progressed by collaboration between the Southern Highlands Private Hospital and the LHD, in particular through the work of Jenny Harper, CEO of the private hospital, and the support of Prof Stephen Della-Fiorentina, medical oncologist and member of our committee.


Can Assist fundraiser results
We are able to happily report on the most successful fundraising activity held recently by the Southern Highlands branch of Can Assist. The luncheon Sunday@Centennial was planned as their major fundraiser for the year. Along with its associated auction, raffle and donations, the whole event altogether raised just over $18,000 net. With 102 guests attending, and many more having purchased raffle tickets beforehand, the result is a record boost to Can Assist’s financial position. That amount will actually cover our local branch’s expenditure in support of patients for a little over 3 months. The encouraging result is a tribute to the efforts of Can Assist’s volunteers, donors and supporters.

Patient Transport for 10 years
The Cancer Council bus which takes Southern Highlands cancer patients up to Campbelltown and back each day has now been operating for 10 years. That is an enormous achievement considering that it has been operated the whole time by volunteer drivers. To celebrate this milestone, and also to acknowledge the retirement of Terry Liebmann, who has been one of the e drivers all through those years, a function will be held at Mittagong RSL at 2.30pm on Wednesday, February 28.

Mount Kosciuszko Challenge

Walking to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko has now become an annual event for supporters of the Rare Cancers Australia charity. Each year the initiative, founded by Bowral locals Kate and Richard Vines, has seen increased numbers join in the activity. This year’s participants will be gathering at Thredbo National Park, 8.00 am Saturday, March 17, with a target of $200,000. More information on the RCA website at www.rarecancers.org.au/. For registrations, which close on March 10, go to https://www.kosichallenge.com.au



The March Charge for Cancer Council
Also on the fitness theme : The March Charge is a fun personal fitness challenge. By walking or running for Cancer Council this March, and by raising funds, you can help them Charge ahead with cancer research, prevention, advocacy and support services. You can choose to go solo or get your friends, family, or colleagues together and do it as a team – it’s up to you! For all information, visit  https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/event/the-march-charge/

Coming Events
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. Feb 27 RSVP Katie
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, Wed. Feb 28
• “The March Charge” is on in March 2018. See item above.
• Can Assist Meeting at BDCU, Bowral, 10am, March 13
• Mount Kosciuszko Challenge for RCA, Sat. March 17. See item above.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee)
0407 234 780 or info@sh-cancerconnect.com.au


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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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