Horticultural therapy

“I always loved gardening, yet through stresses of ill-health, I felt I had lost my passion for it.”

Like many people undergoing a cancer diagnosis and treatment, Christine Fousketakis struggled to get through every day, and things she had loved doing, like gardening, became a thing of the past.

Diagnosed with breast cancer, Christine underwent a rigorous treatment plan at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre (ONJ Centre) including surgery, radiotherapy and hormone therapy.

Christine visits the ONJ Centre twice each week and takes part in many wellness and supportive care programs including horticultural therapy, which is funded by Dry July.

Gardening is a wonderful way to connect with nature and enjoy the present moment. The feel and texture of the soil, the scent of the plants and the ability to facilitate new life by planting seeds and nurturing their growth helps to improve health and well-being of patients and their families, and allows them to enjoy a respite from the emotional turmoil of having cancer.

“Using and engaging with gardens and plants helps people emotionally and physically,” explains Steven Wells, Horticultural Therapist at Austin Health. “It can help patients re-connect with a hobby they may have lost the ability to do themselves, it can act as a diversion from the stress of cancer treatment, and it offers more broad health benefits like connecting with nature by being outdoors in the garden.”

The benefits for Christine have been very clear, and she is so thankful for the opportunity to be involved in horticultural therapy.

“Having attended horticultural therapy helped me to focus less on my current health (even for a short time) and more on something I once enjoyed doing so much,” says Christine. “The group is held in the Wellness Centre garden in a beautiful, serene and relaxing area where one can again learn to enjoy working with nature , no matter how big or small the project.”

“Thank you to all the wonderful Dry July’ers who helped raise money to help people like me,” says Christine.


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Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre

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