Mater Cancer Care Centre, Brisbane

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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 diagnosis.*

Cancer has a significant impact on our loved ones which is why Mater has been providing the community with leading cancer care services for more than 100 years.

By going Dry this July you will be supporting people living well, beyond cancer.

Approximately 4,000 women are diagnosed with female-specific cancers in Queensland annually. Treatment is so successful that 80% of breast cancer and ~70% of gynaecological cancer patients are alive ten years later—but survival also entails living with the detrimental side effects of treatment. These effects can impair physical and psychosocial wellbeing, and they confer a significant risk of developing other chronic conditions.

However, through exercise, good nutrition, sleep hygiene, stress management and psychosocial support, these women can achieve good quality of life, reduce risk and flourish in their usual social and work roles. These studies demonstrate that the Women’s Wellness after Cancer Program (WWACP) improves quality of life and reduces treatment-related chronic disease risks in these women through targeted lifestyle management.

Your support through Dry July will allow us to implement and evaluate the WWACP as standard practice after treatment, Queensland-wide, across Mater. The e-enabled program can be delivered irrespective of the woman’s geographic location; therefore, these benefits will apply equally to rural, regional and metropolitan patients of Mater.
The WWACP should mitigate the considerable personal and social costs of treatment experienced by women with early stage female-specific cancers at all Mater facilities. The program should enhance participants’ quality of life, reduce their risk of preventable treatment-related chronic conditions, and enable women to self-manage their risk effectively.

Together we can make a difference for these women and support them living well, beyond cancer.

Source: *

Latest Updates

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. 

Music Therapy at Mater

Hearing the words “you’ve got cancer” – how music therapy is helping people like Cheryl*

It’s a sad fact that today in Queensland, up to 70 people and their families will be completely blindsided by a cancer diagnosis.

Following a cancer diagnosis, patients will normally undergo a series of medical treatments. They will attend multiple doctors’ appointments and undergo regular scans, blood tests and other examinations. Inevitably, these people will also experience the darker side of cancer—a great deal of fear, uncertainty and emotional distress.

But not all cancer treatments need to be difficult or frightening all the time.

Mater’s music therapy program relies on funding from supporters like Dry July, and provides patients with a chance to address the psychological, emotional, social, physical and physiological impact of their illness while they work through the significant life change they are experiencing. This research-based program is just one part of Mater’s programs that offers an integrated approach to cancer care for any patient.

Cheryl is just one of the many patients who have benefited from music therapy at Mater Cancer Care Centre. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, Cheryl was first in remission following her treatment, but sadly her cancer returned in 2014. Cheryl is now battling metastatic breast cancer.

“I know I can’t get through my cancer without music therapy. It’s as simple as that. It’s a huge thing that’s happening to you when you have cancer. You have to make a ‘new’ way of life around you, and music therapy is a part of my new life,” Cheryl explains.

“When I tell people ‘sorry I can’t see you today because I’m going to music therapy,’ they ask what it’s all about—I tell them that it’s laughter, it’s humour, music therapy is great, it helps me to relax. Nobody is judging me, I can choose to sing or not, it doesn’t matter. The therapy is very flexible,” Cheryl explains.

Cheryl and her daughter have been attending a series of weekly one-to-one music therapy sessions with Mater Music Therapist, Jeanette. A university-trained therapist with a recently completed PhD and registered with the Australian Music Therapy Association, Jeanette has been practicing music therapy for over twenty years.

“Music therapy empowers patients; they often talk about their feelings in a different way at the end of their session. You can see the change in their facial expressions and the change in their mood, both during and after the session,” Jeanette explains.

“Music therapy provides a safe space for patients to talk about other things going on in their lives. But patients don’t always have to discuss what they’re going through; sometimes we’ll just sing a song or we’ll start playing some music, or we’ll talk about music—we don’t necessarily begin each session by talking about how a patient is feeling, or whether they are anxious or low. It’s the music that provides the access point to talking about their cancer journey”.

“Sometimes there’s laughter and sometimes there are tears, but the therapeutic space created between the patient, the therapist and the music all work together to meet the patient’s needs”.

Cheryl says she has recommended the music therapy program at Mater to a number of other cancer patients she knows.

“The other day I was singing in the lift at Mater Cancer Care Centre and one of the patients there asked me why I looked so happy. I told her ‘it’s quite simple, I go to music therapy’. She’s now looking into music therapy for herself.”

Cheryl credits music therapy for helping her being able to work through her cancer diagnosis and ongoing treatment.

“Music therapy is like a breath of fresh air, because I don’t have to think about my cancer. It gives me an outlet and it’s a joy,” she explains.

“I want to extend my sincerest thanks to the supporters of Dry July for helping fund this very important program at Mater. If I hadn’t had all of these different supports and this way of dealing with my cancer, I really don’t think I would be able to get through.”


*Names have been changes for anonymity.

Music Therapy Program at Mater Cancer Care Centre

Music therapy (MT) services at MCCC commenced in April 2015 following philanthropic support of Dry July and other donors, with the introduction of individual and group programs for patients (and their families) receiving cancer treatment. The first year of this innovative program focused primarily on providing information and raising awareness of music therapy services and establishing systems and processes to ensure effective delivery of MT services.

This inaugural program provided supportive sessions designed to address the psychological, emotional, social, physical and physiological needs of patients throughout their cancer journey. Additionally staff and patient education has also been provided to raise awareness and understanding of the MT program and its role alongside other allied health therapies in cancer care.

Dry July funds will support the next stage of the project with music therapy continuing within MCCC and expanding to inpatient oncology wards (where MCCC patients are receiving treatment).

Patients Talk about Art Therapy at Mater Cancer Care Centre

On Wednesday mornings, a group of women gather in a room at Mater Cancer Care Centre. A trolley is wheeled in, filled with supplies. The woman behind the trolley is not a nurse but an art therapist. Instead of bandages, swabs and rubber gloves, the trolley contains tubes of paint, brushes and pastels. The other women in the room are cancer patients. A Mater Cancer Care Nurse comes in and gives each patient a hug to say hello. The atmosphere is warm and relaxed. Everyone takes a seat and the Art Therapy session begins.

Most of the women in the room are waiting for chemotherapy treatment. The drips cannot be made up ahead of time because the recipient needs to have a blood test first. Sometimes a treatment session can be delayed because the number of white cells in the patient’s blood is too low. So you get there and then you wait. Which is where the Art Therapy sessions come in.

More than just a pleasant way to pass the time, creative expression is a proven complementary therapy for cancer patients. Relief from stress and anxiety is among the reported benefits, as is bonding with other women in the same situation. 83% of patients reported that the art therapy process allowed them to concentrate on something positive*.

Participant Patricia, who sometimes attends sessions with her 15-year-old daughter, tells us:

“I was first introduced to Art Therapy in 2011—back when I couldn’t even draw a stick figure! Now I actually look forward to coming to treatment. It takes my mind off what I’m really here for.”

“Sandra [the art therapist] brings out talents you never knew you had. The time goes really quickly and before you know it, the session is over and it’s time for chemo.”

“Being creative makes you relax and zone out. At times, I’ve been so lost in the moment I’ve dipped the paintbrush in my cup of coffee!”

“Without meaning to, our sessions become counselling sessions. Once the art starts, we open up and have a chat. We feel like we can tell each other anything.”

Then we hear from Lynne, who’s seated at the head of the table.

“I’m fairly artistic by nature—I used to be a primary school teacher. Our art therapy sessions are my way of coping. When you’re worried about results, it’s nice to have a pleasant distraction.”

“The sessions make coming here better. You can chat with other people and find out about different treatments.”

“It’s a lot of light-hearted fun and so rewarding. There are paintings all over my house.”

Art Therapist Sandra says:

“There can are up to six people in open studio session. I offer advice on processes, but the main thing is for everyone to express their thoughts and feelings. There’s a lot of laughter as well as tears.”

In another part of Mater Cancer Care Centre, Cheryl is working on her art project in a chemotherapy chair.

“I found out about Art Therapy when I was doing a Mindfulness course, which is another form of complementary therapy offered by Mater Cancer Care Centre.”

“It was something new for me. We started with a simple finger ‘labyrinth’ and went from there. My first attempt was a sunflower. Such a lovely, happy, hopeful image! I still have it hanging up on the wall at home.”

“Our art therapist, Sandra, is just amazing. She’s so supportive. We make collages with great meaning behind them.”  

“One of my favourites is a tribute to mindfulness. It has a healing image of a tropical island with a woman’s silhouette superimposed on it, leading into a calming deep sea picture, which in turn leads into a cool green rainforest.”

“My wonderful art therapy participants and I are so grateful to everyone who takes part in Dry July this year. Your support helps keep Mater Cancer Care Centre’s Art Therapy program afloat. As you can see, cancer patients find these creative complementary therapies hugely soothing and beneficial. Your support makes a great difference to their stress levels and the healing process in general. Without you, sessions like art, music and mindfulness therapy wouldn’t exist—instead, patients waiting for chemo might be sitting in a waiting room worrying about their treatment. On behalf of the Art Therapy Program participants and myself, thank you so much for your continued support.” - Sandra  


*Report on Integrative Oncology Services Art Therapy Program as a part of the treatment for cancer patients offerings at Mater Cancer Care Centre (MCCC)

Parking and Transport for Mater Patients

The Mater Comprehensive Cancer Centre is using funds from Dry July to reinstall a boom gate on level 0 of the Hancock St parking lot, which will reserve 92 parking spaces for cancer patients, and for a transport buggy.

A golf cart is also being purchased and will be driven by volunteers, transfering patients and their carers to an area where they can then be escorted easily to the waiting area at MCCC.

This service will to help relieve the extra stress of finding a car park during peak times, and provide a safe and valuable service to patients who have mobility constraints.

Donate to Mater Cancer Care Centre, Brisbane