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Mater Cancer Care Centre

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It’s a heartbreaking reality that one in two Queenslanders will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime—meaning each day around 70 Queensland families are blindsided by an unimaginable cancer diagnoses.* Cancer has a signficant impact on our loved ones which is why Mater has been providing the community with leading cancer care services for more than 100 years. The dedicated and experienced team at Mater are committed to providing all patients, regardless if they are public or private, comprehensive and compassionate care that is personalised to meet their specific care and support needs, both in inpatient and outpatient settings. By offering a wide range of support services, Mater’s team of healthcare professionals ensure patients’ health and wellbeing is at the core of everything it does. By going dry this July, your support will assist Mater to improve the lives of cancer patients now and in the future. *www.cancerqld.org.au

Latest Updates

Mater patient, Carolyn, benefits from cooling cap

When Carolyn Attwood was facing chemotherapy following a breast cancer diagnosis in 2016, one of her first questions was whether she would lose her hair.

“I was devastated when I was told I would,” she recalled.

“Hair is a sign of health and life and normalcy. I loved my hair. It was really long and losing it made me feel like people would stare at me in the street, and that my friends, family and co-workers wouldn’t see a bright, confident person anymore—just a weak, sick person.”

Carolyn, then 34, underwent surgery to remove her breast and lymph nodes at Mater Private Hospital Springfield—where she also works as a bookings officer—and prepared herself for five rounds of chemotherapy.

Fortunately, there was some good news.

She was offered the chance to use a Paxman scalp cooling system during her chemotherapy sessions, potentially reducing the risk of hair loss. These caps reduce scalp temperature, reducing blood flow to the hair follicles and alleviating the damage that chemotherapy causes them.

“I was the first person at Mater Cancer Care Centre Springfield to use one. I was really excited to trial it because I wanted to work during my treatment and be as normal as possible.”

The mum of three wore the cap through each of her five rounds of chemotherapy, for about five hours each time. She describes the sensation as “absolutely freezing” for the first 15 minutes after the gel cap was placed on her head, and another cap secured on top with a chin strap. But after this initial period, Carolyn said she quickly acclimatised—and the results were wonderful.

“Instead of losing chunks of hair like you would with chemotherapy, I just lost some hair when I brushed it and I was able to save about 50 per cent of my hair. I was on very strong chemotherapy that would have absolutely rendered me bald without it, so the cap was really good.”

It wasn’t until the end of her treatment that Carolyn wore a beanie, but was able to still have her fringe and some hair showing. Importantly, her youngest child—aged five—did not notice any difference.

“I didn’t want to frighten him by looking sick or being bald. I was really worried about how he would react to that. So it was really nice to be able to cover that up. He just saw the same Mum.”

Funds raised through Dry July supported the purchase of the scalp cooling system. Carolyn encouraged people to take up this year’s Dry July challenge to fund a range of services for cancer patients at Mater.

“I’m so thankful to the people who took part last year as it resulted in these cooling caps. I hope more people go Dry this July so other patients can benefit during treatment and recovery.”

Carolyn’s hair has now grown back, her active cancer treatment is complete and she is looking forward to the future.

“For me, being able to keep some of my hair wasn’t a vanity issue, it was a dignity issue. It helped me so much emotionally and made me feel like I could carry on with my life, despite my cancer treatment.”

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Berlinda and Music Therapy at Mater

Mother of one and early childhood teacher of 24 years, Berlinda, has shared her story on the positive impact Music Therapy has had on her journey with brain cancer.

Suffering from double vision in October 2015, Berlinda was referred to an optometrist, followed by an ophthalmologist, where a MRI revealed that a brain tumour was in fact the cause.

Berlinda went on to undergo brain surgery to have the tumour removed and has since had 17 months of radiation and chemotherapy treatment, as well as a number of other smaller surgeries.

Six months ago, one of Mater’s occupational therapists suggested to Berlinda that she might benefit from taking part in Music Therapy at Mater Cancer Care Centre. Since then she’s been participating every two to four weeks.

“I was quite excited to try music therapy from the start, I was interested in what it would be like and how it could benefit me, and it really is just fantastic.”

“We do lots of different things in music therapy, like playing instruments and singing songs. It’s amazing how different the lyrics can be when you sing them, compared to your memories from childhood.”

“Sometimes I feel anxious and music therapy helps to calm me down, it helps me to feel as though I can achieve anything.”

“I also enjoy a beautiful connection with my music therapy teacher; I really enjoy being around Kylie and her calming influence.”

“We have done many different activities in music therapy so far and are currently working on writing a song. The song is a reflection on my cancer and what has happened to me.”

“Cancer is extremely common; so many people are affected by it or touched by it. I urge everyone to get behind Dry July, because even a little bit of support means a lot to people like me.”

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Your impact on Cancer care at Mater

Thanks to your support through Dry July’s generous donation, Mater has been able to provide the very best in comprehensive and integrated healthcare for people living with cancer.

You have enabled Mater to provide a specialised Music Therapy Program for some of the 5900 people who come to Mater for cancer treatment each year.

Mater Cancer Care Music Therapy Program : A reality thanks to Dry July’s gift.

It has only been with your wonderful support that Mater was able to introduce a brand new Music Therapy Program to the Mater Cancer Care Centre in 2015. The program, which involves one on one sessions between patients and therapists, was hugely successful in the first year, being well received by patients, families and staff alike.

Music therapy addresses the psychological, emotional, social and physical needs of each individual patient as they navigate through their cancer experience.

Each music therapy session is personalised, offering the chance for the cancer patient and music therapist to address a range of needs. Patients and their families are supported with self-expression which helps with their mood, anxiety and depression; choice and control; relationships and support systems; life satisfaction, non-verbal communication; symptom management and relaxation.

In 2016, thanks to your further generous donation, Mater’s Music Therapy Program was able to continue in the Mater Cancer Care Centre and the service was expanded to include the inpatient oncology wards.

Your support means that the Music Therapy Program was able to expand from 26 to 31 hours per week, meaning more patients now have access to this important and invaluable service.

“It’s important to give our patients the opportunity to tell their story through music and to reflect on what they’ve been through. Music therapy is a creative and positive way to acknowledge what has happened and to think about our hopes for the future.”

- Kylie, Mater Music Therapist.

So thank you Dry July supporters, for your generous support in continuing to fund this valuable program which provides therapeutic relief, joy and welcome distractions for many cancer patients at Mater.

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Musical Therapy at Mater Cancer Care Centre Springfield

Mater Foundation will use funds raised through Dry July this year to purchase musical instruments with the intention of starting a music therapy program at MCCC Springfield.

For many people, listening to or making music is an absolute pleasure, and very often with cancer patients this is the only form of entertainment that they will be able to participate in during their treatment. Music therapy may accompany medical treatment to promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, enhance memory, and help patients communicate and express feelings, and even promote physical rehabilitation. Studies have shown that making or listening to music can even lower blood pressure and heart and breathing rates, and in deed lessen the anxiety.

Scalp Cooling Cap System

Mater Foundation is using Dry July funds to purchase 2 scalp cooling cap systems for Mater Cancer Care Centre Springfield.

Chemotherapy works by targeting all rapidly dividing cells in the body. Hair is the second fastest dividing cell in the body and this is the reason why many chemotherapy drugs cause hair loss. The hair follicles in the growth phase are attached resulting in hair loss approximately 2 weeks after commencement of chemotherapy treatment.

The damage that chemotherapy causes to the hair follicle can be alleviated by using scalp cooling. Scalp cooling works by reducing the temperature of the scalp by a few degrees immediately before, during and after the administration of chemotherapy. This in turn reduces the blood flow to the hair follicles thus preventing or minimizing the damage, meaning that hair loss is not inevitable.

Purchasing 2 of the scalp cooling cap systems will mean that Mater Cancer Care Centre Springfield can provide this exceptional service for new patients diagnosed with cancer and starting their chemotherapy treatment.

The scalp cooling system is responsible for helping people worldwide to keep their hair and their dignity during cancer chemotherapy treatment.