As a doctor of Chinese Medicine, exploring complementary therapies was a given when Suzi was diagnosed with breast cancer just months prior to her 40th birthday.
Now mid-way through chemotherapy, Suzi credits Bendigo Health’s Cancer Wellness Program as a pivotal ingredient in dealing with the side effects of treatment, especially managing impacts on her mental health.
Suzi describes feeling fortunate that physical her symptoms seem more manageable than others she has met, including patients in her own practice who are going through similar treatments.
Initially, Suzi visited the Gobbé Wellness Centre to consider wig options, “I had lost a lot of hair after the first round of treatment and was conscious of how I looked. I had decided early on in my diagnosis to be fairly private about how I was going to manage my appearance for my own mental wellbeing.” Suzie said.
“Talking to Jenna and Simone about what options were available provided a huge sense of relief and calm, but they also walked me through the Centre, showing me what else they could provide.”
Like 1,254 other patients who will use Bendigo Health’s Cancer Wellness Program this year, the range of activities on offer support patients both emotionally and physically. The staff who oversee a timetable of complementary therapies are equally important to the services they offer, including oncology massage, reflexology, mindfulness, yoga, music, journaling workshops and counselling services.
“As a cancer patient, there are many things you are told to be cautious of; limiting sunlight exposure, so walking outside during summer was challenging; wearing masks in public minimises social activities; and being conscious of what you put on your skin, using very mild shampoos, soaps and lotions. This has a huge impact on feelings of losing your sense of self, loneliness and isolation, even when I am blessed to have an incredible support network around me.”
Suzi describes her first oncology massage session as ‘magical’, providing relief and a sense of calm. “Having the oncology massage all of sudden gave me back a sense of normalcy, it felt ‘magical’ not just in that moment, but in the weeks following.” said Suzie.
Bendigo Health’s Cancer Wellness Program is available with the support of funds raised through Dry July.