Chris O'Brien Lifehouse

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$198,165.56 raised

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For our patients and their families Chris O’Brien Lifehouse is more than a cancer hospital; it’s a place of hope, healing and life.

Our achievements are possible thanks to our generous and compassionate community of supporters. Funds raised through Dry July will enable Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to help lessen the impact of cancer on our patients and their families. Together we are working towards a cancer free future.

Latest Updates

Supporting Lifehouse

Dry July 2016 funding will go towards continuing the Carterie program at Chris O'Brien Lifehouse, and toward an entertainment package for young adult patients.

Lifehouse's Arterie art therapy program supports the centre's holistic approach to cancer patient care through an innovative participatory arts program. Arterie’s mission is to improve outcomes for patients, families, carers, staff and visitors by easing the side effects of cancer and its treatment (stress, pain, fatigue, isolation and depression) as well as providing a therapeutic distraction from treatment through art engagement and participation. Carterie  is a mobile art studio manned by Lifehouse volunteers with pre-packaged activities considered and designed around neuropathy, fatigue and nausea that are delivered one to one during waiting and treatment. Costs covered by Dry July include displays, mobile trays and art materials. Carteries house up to 10 art/craft projects each term and the design, innovation, research and invention of new projects is ongoing.

Young adult patients' feedback has resulted in a request for individual CD players with a range of mindful meditation and relaxation CDs to help them cope with long chemo treatment. Audio books on CD provide an excellent way to escape from the reality of treatment and recovery. Kindles with pre-loaded books may also be provided. The idea is to be able to provide a comprehensive “entertainment” package to allow some respite from the long waits and even longer treatment times.

Patient Ambassador: Pepi

Pepi was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and has been undergoing treatment at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse since then. She is taking on the challenge of Dry July to give back to Lifehouse and in particular the support she has received from their complementary therapy arts program, Arterie. She started attending Arterie’s Open Studios to fill the gap between appointments and has found them lots of fun and interesting. Pepi doesn’t drink so instead will be giving up swearing, which she says may prove quite the challenge when in the car in traffic so she’s taken to creating her own “non-swear” words. So far Careless Clots, Fat-Headed Geese and Abominable Ninnies have all been given a work out.

Thanks for being part of Team Lifehouse, Pepi.

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Arterie

Dry July is proud to continue funding Chris O’Brien Lifehouse complementary therapy program Arterie. Arterie supports the COB LIfehouse holistic approach to cancer patient care through an innovative participatory arts program. Arterie’s mission is to improve outcomes for patients, families, carers, staff and visitors by easing the side effects of cancer and its treatment (stress, pain, fatigue, isolation and depression) as well as providing a therapeutic distraction from treatment through art engagement and participation. 

The program uses paints, paper and pencils alongside state-of-the-art surgical equipment and internationally-trained specialists to provide innovative patient support.

Arterie team members, otherwise known as “Arterists”, are formally-qualified artists, designers, architects and educators who deliver the multi-pronged programs in bright orange aprons to all stakeholders - patients, carers, family, volunteers and staff including clinical, admin and executive.

Chief clinical officer Michael Boyer said, “Having an art program is one more aspect of looking after the whole patient. There is more to good cancer care than performing the right operation or prescribing the best medicine. Arterie is something that really helps us look after our patients”.

Arterie Co Founder/Director Amanda Solomon said: “The art is a conduit for conversation and communication. Our aim is to normalise the Lifehouse experience and environment, to make it look and feel less clinical using art practice, art education and art installations. It’s about engaging and focusing on non-medical issues, and having some fun in an otherwise stressful situation.“

Arterie Co Founder/Director Deborah Burdett said: “We get patients and visitors chatting with each other. We see large, burly men, hunched over, intent on colouring in rainbow hues to a butterfly’s wings. Patients sit, stitch and chat with each other. The repetitive nature of some art and craft making activities can be a great stress reliever and people can relax and not think about their illness for once.”

Patient Belinda Ellis is a mother, a teacher and wife healing from stage three breast cancer. She said, “I think that being kept busy was paramount in my maintaining a positive outlook during my treatment. The Day Therapy waiting room can be a sombre place and having happy, orange people pushing these carts filled with art pack surprises made the waiting easier.

“It’s not just medical treatment of the body that makes us get better.”

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Artist in Residence

Jill Carter-Hansen - Multi Disciplinary Artist/Illustrator - is the Arterie Artist in Residence during October 2015 at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

Jill is writing and illustrating the story of Beatrice - a bear from the bush who comes to Lifehouse to be reunited with long lost cousin - Brien Bear. Beatrice wanders around Lifehouse, meeting and discovering members of the Lifehouse community in search of Brien. People visiting Lifehouse are invited to sit with Jill, draw their own bear or colour in one of her existing miniature bears from Jill’s illustrations from ‘Bearley There’ (written by Aleesah Darlinson).

The Artist in Residence program is proudly supported by Dry July.

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Patient Ambassador: Simone

Simone Georgiou has kindly stepped forward to support Chris O’Brien Lifehouse as a patient ambassador. Here Simone shares her story:

I was married in November 2013.

Nine months later, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Just over a year after walking down the aisle I have become the first patient to have major surgery at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and the first patient in the new Intensive Care Unit.

Bowel cancer, I have since found, is the second biggest cancer killer in Australia. If you get it early enough, it’s so much more curable. I think back, and if only I’d known the danger and the signs.

In my case, the signs were there. I first noticed warning signals during my honeymoon in Mexico – but they were disguised because I had managed to pick up a bowel parasite that was later treated successfully with antibiotics when we got home.

Then I fell pregnant, and with pregnancy you have even more changes with your bowel. But after I miscarried the problems continued. My GP got me to have a check-up and, even knowing my family history, everyone was saying: ‘Don’t worry, it’ll just be Crohn’s Disease or gastro or ulcers’.

When the diagnosis came, even my specialist was surprised, given my age at 39.

Immediately, my husband and I began a round of IVF, and now have three embryos frozen. We are waiting for the right time to be carried by a surrogate who has selflessly offered. Obviously I now can’t carry a child.  And it was overwhelming to have this offer. It’s just so… so big.

So I am now through the first round of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and the removal of my entire large bowel and a full hysterectomy to prevent any recurrence of the cancer.

Lying in my bed recuperating from surgery, I’ve had plenty of time to think. I think how, if I hadn’t lost my baby, I would now be dead. Sometimes good things can come from really bad things.

Going through this so young changes your outlook and perspective on life

I often hear people complain about their bad day at work or that they are unable to lose some extra kilos, and it’s sad that they don’t know how lucky they are, they have this amazing thing called ‘health’. I also used to take that for granted, but never again. It’s the little things at the moment that make a big difference.

So I’m looking at what I can do with my life that’s positive and the way my story might help others.

I want to urge younger people to have a check-up if they have a history of cancer in their family.

My grandfather and his siblings died from bowel cancer. My father would have been a carrier of Lynch Syndrome, which predisposes carriers to bowel cancer, but he died of melanoma. I always knew I would get cancer because my family has cancer on both sides, but not so young. I thought I would be older.

I want to do something to support other younger people who get cancer. Under 50, it’s not something you expect. If there’s a way I can make it a little bit easier, to make other people feel they’re not the only one out there, I want to do something, even if it’s just saving one person from this.