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Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre

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The Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre (ONJ Cancer Centre) is a comprehensive cancer centre dedicated to providing leading medical treatment and breakthrough research, complemented by the best in evidence based wellness and supportive care programs. Patients are at the centre of everything we do and we empower their mind, body and spirit to be as strong as possible to manage one of the biggest challenges of their lives.

By raising funds for Dry July, you are helping ensure the survival of our evidence based wellness and supportive care programs at the ONJ Cancer Centre, which is not funded by government. These programs are designed to provide support, information and strategies to cancer patients during their cancer journey. Our programs include oncology massage, gentle yoga, art and music therapy, and specialist exercise programs.

Thank you for being an amazing Dry July’er! You are truly helping and supporting people with cancer.

Latest Updates

A busy working mother of three, Meredith Holmes was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer

Running along a beach in Queensland with her sister, 42 year-old Meredith had to slow down because of the pain she was feeling from a lump in her breast. She had noticed the lump previously but hadn’t for a moment thought it might be breast cancer.

“There was no history of breast cancer in my family,” she says. “I had a scan in Queensland and it suggested I have more follow up tests when I got back to Melbourne, where I was diagnosed with a very aggressive type of breast cancer.”

A recent separation meant she was facing diagnosis and treatment as a single mother. Treatment was immediate and urgent, with surgery to remove the tumor followed by a course of chemotherapy four weeks later once Meredith had recovered from the surgery. Radiotherapy followed.

Meredith believes the ONJ Cancer Centre wellness programs, mainly art therapy helped her to understand and come to terms with her harrowing experience.

“The impact for me has been amazing. I was able to use it as a way to meditate, to clear my mind of the thoughts running around about the cancer coming back and where do I go from here. It was good to put my emotions into something other than words.”

Being susceptible to depression, Meredith believed art therapy also helped her keep her mental health in a positive state during her diagnosis and treatment,

“Art therapy gave me a chance to do something for myself – not for the kids, nor because a doctor told me to, but for me,” says Meredith. “It allowed me to talk about my experience, to process it and to reflect on what was the longest six months of my life.”

Art therapy is only made possible by our incredible Dry July’ers! We are deeply grateful for the difference you make to patients and their families.


Yoga creates balance for cancer patients

Anne Stroud became a patient at the ONJ Cancer Centre when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer in March 2018. The Gentle Yoga program at the ONJ Centre uses gentle movement and breathing practices to help you reduce stress and tension, increase energy and foster a positive relationship with your body.

Wellness programs helped Anne cope with the stress of her diagnosis and treatment. With her home being the mountains of East Gippsland, Anne decided to stay close to the hospital while undergoing treatment, giving her the opportunity and the time to immerse herself in the many nurturing and self-care wellness activities held every day. Gentle yoga was a highlight for Anne.

“Gentle yoga was just amazing. It gave me contact with other people so I felt I wasn’t isolated or doing it alone,” says Anne.

Yoga has been shown to improve both physical and emotional health for cancer patients. Clinical research has shown that yoga may improve sleep, decrease stress and enhance quality of life. The Gentle Yoga program at the ONJ Centre continues to be one of the most sought after programs in the Wellness and Supportive Care suite.

“I did six sessions and we were all able to do it at our own pace. The relaxation was lovely, it taught me to give myself time and be kind to myself, I learnt breathing techniques and other beautiful things to help me in distressing situations.”

 “I’m just really thankful, I don’t know what it would have been like without this support for my own wellness and mental well-being. I loved it”.

We are deeply grateful to you, by signing up to Dry July you are helping patients like Anne feel supported with programs like Gentle Yoga. We couldn’t do it without you.


A chance at life through exercise

By supporting ONJ Cancer Centre through Dry July you will help cancer patients reap the benefits of regular exercise during their treatment and recovery.

International research shows exercise is an effective therapy for cancer patients to improve their overall health and wellbeing while undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy. However, about 60 to 70 per cent of people with cancer do not do enough aerobic exercises and 80 to 90 per cent do not do enough resistance exercises during cancer treatment. People who are more physically active have lower recurrence rates, reduced metastatic rates and a higher chance of beating cancer as a disease.

Diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome in 2016, Lori Crupi’s world became one of chemotherapy, immunotherapy and weekly blood transfusions.

Unfortunately, Lori's treatments stopped being effective and she was left with one last option to save her life - a stem cell transplant. A drastic treatment where all the bone marrow cells in her body had to be destroyed and replaced with healthy donor bone marrow cells, Lori needed to build up her fitness before she could qualify for this treatment.

"My body was tired and frail. By beginning a special exercise program, I could take control over my physical strength. I could build it up to a point where I would be strong enough to have my life-saving stem cell transplant”.

The ONJ Cancer Centre Wellness Gym is just for oncology outpatients and qualified Exercise Physiologists design tailored exercise programs to meet their personal needs and goals. This could include resistance training, aerobic exercise, balance, mobility and functional exercises.

“Exercise was the difference between life and death for me. My exercise program in the Wellness Gym was the turning point for me. It gave me new physical and mental strength, giving me and my family hope. I felt less tired. I felt safe in the expert care of specialist oncology exercise physiologists”

After hard work and dedication, Lori received a stem cell transplant and with continued exercise, she’s decreased the necessity for aggressive tablets from over 30 a day to less than a handful!

By supporting the ONJ Cancer Centre Wellness Gym, you help patients complete their treatment, improve their quality of life and decrease their chance of cancer recurrence.


Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre receives an additional grant from the Dry July Foundation

We're pleased to announce that Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre has received an additional grant from the Dry July Foundation October grant round.

This grant will enable the funding of:

• Continuation of the Music Therapy Program. Engaging in music therapy can help to reduce pain, anxiety and depression in patients with cancer and it can have a significant positive impact on their quality of life.

• Continuation of Gentle Yoga Program, helping patients regain physical and emotional confidence


Dry July Foundation helps cancer patients at Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre

Thanks to funds raised through Dry July 2019, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre have been able to fund the following projects:

• Exercise Physiologists at the ONJ Centre Wellness Gym, allowing the gym to increase hours to meet demand (currently 41 patients on wait list)

• Cancer Information and Resource Service

• Continued funding for the Oncology Massage Program

Special services like oncology massage make a life changing difference to people with cancer, like Beverley. “I get to the point where my neck feels like it’s wrapped up with barbed wire. Oncology massage is a life-saver for me and incredibly beneficial to my quality of life” – Beverley Douglas, patient.

Suan from the Wellness Centre sees the enormous impact wellness programs have on patients and families, and is filled with gratitude for our amazing Dry July supporters. “Every day I see how patients and families are supported by our wellness programs,” says Suan. “Dry July’ers really are making a life-changing difference for patients, families and carers.”


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