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Barwon Health's Andrew Love Cancer Centre, Geelong

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$84,537.96 raised

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Funds raised through Dry July 2019 will help improve the patient experience for people undergoing cancer treatment at Barwon Health’s Andrew Love Cancer Centre.

Barwon Health’s Cancer Services provides world class treatment options including radiotherapy treatment, chemotherapy, apheresis unit/stem cell collection, transplant clinic and haematology services. We have a dedicated cancer inpatient ward at University Hospital Geelong, and a range of complementary services such as clinical trials and pharmacy at the Andrew Love Cancer Centre allowing us to offer patients the very best treatments available.

This year, with your help we’re fundraising for comfort and care therapies and equipment across Barwon Health Cancer Services. The therapies include exercise therapy which will provide patients having treatment at University Hospital Geelong with physical, mental and emotional health benefits.

Dry July has also made a big difference to the ProjectLove Chemotherapy Day Ward and Pharmacy redevelopment. Thanks to Dry July participants Patients will have access to the latest technology to watch TV, play games, listen to the radio, order food, send emails and surf the internet via a brand new state-of-the-art ‘Siemens HiMed Cockpit Bedside Solution'. The system also has the capability to allow for video conferencing so that patients can communicate with doctors in a major city whilst having treatment providing 'real-time' discussions with their clinician. An integrated webcam even makes it possible for friends and relatives to pay a virtual visit to the hospital. The portal can also host education and information content put together by the Cancer Centre to educate patients about their treatment and illness.

Funds raised through Dry July will also provide support to vital programs and activities at Barwon Health’s Andrew Love Cancer Centre Wellness Lounge. The Wellness Lounge incorporates wellness components and provides a range of therapies for patients as well as lifestyle and survivorship programs. The therapies provided combine with allied health services such as social work, psychology and pastoral care support.

Every year, Barwon Health cares for and treats over 20,000 individual cancer patients from the Geelong and Western Victoria region, with 2,400 of these being new cancer patients. For more information about Barwon Health Cancer Services, please visit www.barwonhealth.org.au/cancer-services/

Latest Updates

Katie's Story - working as an oncology nurse

Hi my name is Katie and I am a nurse at the Andrew Love Cancer Centre (ALCC) in Geelong where our patient’s come in for their chemotherapy and radiotherapy. I am a small part of a fantastic team at the ALCC where I have worked for over the past 13 years. Prior to this I worked on our inpatient ward.

My role as an oncology nurse involves not only giving patients their chemotherapy but also providing support to patients & their families, education, encouragement, and helping them manage their symptoms. I didn’t expect to love the area of oncology but I do. You become part of a person’s life at probably their most difficult time and they become part of yours. I enjoy making a connection with people as you see them regularly and you really get to know them and they get to know you. In this job every day is different, and we do share lots of challenges but also share lots of laughs!

It's overwhelming and tough for patients and it’s our job to make it a bit easier. In ALCC you meet such a diverse range of people and share lots of stories. I’m amazed and inspired by people like Kylie, our Dry July Ambassador, who is juggling her treatment while being mum to 3 children. She comes in every week so positive and just gets on with it! We all adore her baby, Reed, and it’s such a lovely part of our day when they come in. Along with so many of our patients they are juggling their lives with their cancer treatment but are always so grateful and appreciative and that makes our job so enjoyable.

I have been involved with Dry July for seven years. I am lucky I see first hand the real difference Dry July contributions make to our patients lives. Dry July has contributed to fantastic programs such as patients exercise therapy, art classes chemotherapy diaries and resources, nutrition and yoga classes. Every dollar I raise goes directly to the Andrew Love Cancer Centre and the patients I look after.

So, I encourage everyone to jump on board and sign up for dry July or sponsor someone that is. Every donation big or small makes a difference! Think of the health benefits and NO hangovers! I live in Ocean Grove with my husband & our 3 boys and my friends and family all know I love catching up over a wine or 2 (just not in July)! So to my friends and family I thank you for all your support and generous donations because your donation is making it a little bit easier for someone affected by cancer.


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Dry July participants fund physical health program in Geelong region

Dry July has funded an integrated physical therapy program available to all suitable in-patient and out-patient cancer patients. This program will be run across two Barwon Health sites/departments (In-patient Baxter 6 Haemotology/Oncology Ward and our Out-patient Supportive Care Centre. The program will include a wide variety of classes/therapy sessions from a mix of exercise facilitators and physio and would include the following:

- 'Living with Cancer' Exercise therapy

- Yoga

- Exercise Physiology ad physio

- Tai Chi

- Oncology Massage provided by oncology massage therapists.

This will positively affect suitable patients by improving health and well-being in general but also providing patients with something positive to focus on with their bodies.


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Exercise Therapy at Barwon Health

Warrnambool resident Tony always considered himself fit and healthy, so he wasn’t concerned when he started experiencing unexplained tiredness and blood in his urine. His son, however, was not happy with this assumption and urged Tony to see his GP.

After a number for tests and specialist appointments, the 65-year-old was called into the clinic to meet with his doctor. 

“As soon as I looked at her, I felt a shiver down my spine,” he said. 

“She sat me down and said I had Acute Leukaemia. You could have knocked me down with a feather. 

“She told me with about two months of chemo I had about a 40 per cent chance of remission.” 

However, all Tony could think about was his family. 

“I just didn’t know how to deal with this,” he said. 

“I thought to myself, how am I going to tell my wife and kids?” 

Tony packed his bags for the Warrnambool Base Hospital before specialists arranged a bed at University Hospital Geelong on the Haematology ward. 

Leaving his house behind, he recalls looking back at his wife and their beautiful garden, wondering if he would ever see it again. 

Tony said the few times his family left his side in hospital were the hardest. 

“I went into the toilet and found myself crying. I looked in the mirror and told myself I needed to beat this badly, as I wanted to spend my retirement enjoying things with my wife, spending more time with my kids and grandkids. 

“That is when things took on a new meaning, and that I wasn’t going to give in.” 

Since then Tony has started chemotherapy and is taking exercise therapy sessions, fully funded by the Dry July Foundation. 

The therapy enables patients to leave their beds and their hospital room to exercise and help the body and mind whilst undergoing cancer treatment. 

The physiotherapy has helped Tony’s mobility and state of mind, making a big difference to the pain he felt in his knee. 

“These people really can’t help you enough. I need a knee replacement at some stage and have been in pain, but my physio has really helped me a lot with the exercise therapy. 

“It is really hard to describe, but it’s like someone went out and found the kindest people in the world and put them in this building and they are taking such good care of me and others there.” 

In 2017, Dry July raised more than $154,000 for the comfort and care of cancer patients at Barwon Health. Some of the items funded this year have included exercise therapy, a patient art program, music therapy, nutrition support and edible gardens, carer support and massage. To support Dry July 2018, go to www.dryjuly.com. 

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Campbell's Story

My journey began at the start of 2015. I had proposed to my now wife Kacey the previous year and we had all our wedding details for April that year finalised. Things were going well, I had landed a career at the Shell/VIVA Geelong refinery after ten years with GM Holden and we were halfway through renovating our country property.

One morning my then fiancé Kacey and I met at our Ministers house to go over details of our upcoming wedding. While waiting out the front of her house I stretched and noticed a lump at the base of my neck, just above my collarbone. Surprised I mentioned it to Kacey and without hesitation she rang up our local clinic and made me attend. To be honest if it were up to me I would have waited some time hoping it would go away. The next week or two involved an ultrasound then a needle biopsy. After the biopsy I was told I would find out in a week or so the outcome but when the phone rang a day after to come into the doctors clinic I knew deep down it was something more than a simple cyst.

 When my GP told me the results that I had a type of lymphoma it didn’t really sink in, not until I heard the words “blood cancer” and “chemotherapy”. The next few weeks involved many scans, surgery to remove lymph nodes for testing and an appointment with Dr David Kipp at the Andrew Love Cancer Centre. The constant tiredness and weightloss that I had put down to shiftwork combined with regular night sweats now ticked all the boxes for symptons of lymphoma. There were some ups and downs at the start, finding out I had a 9cm mass in my chest was surprising but when a bone marrow biopsy revealed we had caught it early some relief was felt. The hardest day was when the test results came back that I actually had a rare type of T cell lymphoma, Anaplastic large cell Lymphoma. My life was about to be turned upside down and I was given a 50% chance of surviving it. Our plans of getting married and starting a family would have to work around 6 months of intensive chemo therapy (hyper C-VAD) followed by a stem cell transplant and radiation therapy. We brought our wedding forward to the start of March and cancelled our Cook Islands honeymoon. Instead of relaxing on a beach I was laying on a bed having a tube inserted in my chest that would deliver the lifesaving but sickening treatment for the next 6 months. Week long stints on Heath Wing 2 in the University Hospital Geelong and daily visits to Barwon Health’s Andrew Love Cancer Centre were now part of everyday life.

Some would have called us crazy but as starting a family would now only happen with the help of IVF we began the process at the same time. Halfway through my treatment a PET scan and a blood test would return the greatest news we could imagine. I was in remission and Kacey was pregnant with our future son Mac. The remaining months of my treatment were tough but knowing that I had to get better so that I could become a Dad drove me to accept whatever I had to do to achieve it.

I can never thank enough the team of Doctors, Nurses and Staff at the University Hospital Geelong and Andrew Love Cancer Centre for the care they gave me and still continue to, two years on. They made what seemed like a life sentence at the time feel like a bump in the road. I met and continue to meet many great people throughout my journey.

The most prominent was a great man Scott Beyer. Scott was also 29 when diagnosed with a blood cancer and had battled through the exact same intensive chemotherapy that I had to. He took it upon himself to coach me through my treatment, telling me what to expect and putting my mind at ease when I progressed through each stage. Something that no one else could do. His messages and reassurance kept me upbeat and took away the fear of the unknown. Scott was a previous Dry July ambassador and at the time I met him was fighting the toughest fight against a relapsed extremely rare T cell lymphoma. I was devastated when Scott lost his battle last year, leaving behind his wife Corrine and two young girls Ava and Sophie. His determination and will to fight while also helping others is a memory that will live on and will continue to encourage others to raise much needed funds for such a worthy cause. Witnessing Scotts fight is what drove me fundraise almost twenty thousand dollars last year and accept the role of ambassador for Dry July.

Every cent raised for the Andrew Love Cancer Centre is vital for treatment and care of so many people that it saves every day.


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Glenda's Story - Barwon Health Foundation Volunteer Gives Back

At 55, Glenda was a fit and healthy marketing consultant relishing in the joys of becoming a grandmother for the first time. It was the discovery of a small, painless lump in her throat that changed Glenda’s life.

“Eighteen days after surgery to remove the lump I had a massive bleed requiring hospitalisation to cauterise it. As I was going under, I was told I might not live through the operation but thankfully I did,” Glenda said. 

“I had 35 rounds of radiation therapy simultaneously with chemotherapy over seven weeks. After the tonsil was removed, I had a PEG tube inserted into my stomach to allow me to have a high protein liquid food. It remained there for eight months. During this period I was unable to eat solid foods for most of that time.” 

It wasn’t just the devastating diagnosis of cancer that Glenda and her husband Geoff had to cope with, it was also a social stigma associated with having a head and neck cancer.  

“People assume that if you have a head and neck cancer, you have been a heavy drinker and smoker. But not all people who have a head and neck cancer have been drinkers or smokers including myself. Without using the exact words, some people considered me and others with this type of cancer to have lived a ‘dirty’ life,” Glenda explained. 

Now in remission, Glenda is a volunteer at Barwon Health’s Supportive Care Centre, a place where she connects with people going through similar experiences in a non-clinical way. Glenda hosts morning tea twice a month in the centre and up to 30 patients and their family members attend to support one another. 

“This cancer is less well-known and it can happen to anyone – it is a terrible cancer that causes so much trauma with a long road to recovery,” she said.  

“I made a conscious decision to remember as much as could about my experience so that I could help others going through similar experiences. 

“Many people supported me during and after my illness. Family, friends and members of groups that I have been involved with have helped to fundraise. The funds raised have been used to create bags of the essential things people need when they begin their treatment journey. We have been able to provide these bags to Barwon Health to hand out to newly diagnosed patients for the last five years The fundraising has also been used to provide patients and carers with support morning teas here in the Supportive Care Centre. However these are held fortnightly and sometime we can have 50 people through, so I’m finding it really hard to fundraise enough to support this number of people.” 

Glenda was absolutely delighted when she received the news from Sara at the Barwon Health Foundation, that funds from Dry July 2017 will now fund her carer support morning teas and packs which will allow her more time to volunteer and support the patients and carers coming to see her (and her cooking!). 

Glenda said her experience as a patient made her want to give back to others going through the same thing, 

“I find the support I give to these patients and carers very fulfilling. After going through what they are currently going through, I feel very privileged to be able to give them information and ideas about what it’s like and what helped me. Sometimes it can be very hard to eat and keep weight on when you are going through treatment, and I try to bake things I know the patients will be able to eat. Often the carers when seeing this will go home and bake exactly the same things.”    

At 63, Glenda’s treatment and recovery is ongoing but she hasn’t let it get in the way of living life to the fullest.  

“I still have health issues that require monitoring and treatment but I have learnt to live around these limitations. I have a wonderful quality of life – I am living and enjoying my life with friends and family and doing volunteer work.” 

Photos: Glenda and some of her baking 

Photos: Glenda and one of our patients and her carer

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