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Dry July is a highly important initiative for the PA Research Foundation as it allows us to raise vital funds to positively impact patient care for cancer patients at the PA Hospital.
Our Dry July fundraising efforts are aimed at helping fund patient support initiatives and programs that make cancer patients’ time in hospital more comfortable and help them to experience improved health outcomes as a result.
Thanks to the success of Dry July in 2020, PA Research Foundation was able to provide funding to install free high speed Wi-Fi for cancer patients facing long stays in hospital for treatment. High speed Wi-Fi allows cancer patients to stay in touch with family and friends and have an escape from their treatment and time in hospital through surfing the web and enjoying services like Netflix.
Dry July funds have also helped to expand the services offered by the PAH based Queensland Cancer Wellness Initiative (QCWI), a program that offers a range of services in where people living with cancer and its ongoing impact are nurtured and empowered to access evidence-based support, at a time and place that works for individual needs.
All of the programs offered through the QCWI greatly improve patient experiences at the PAH and help those diagnosed with cancer to live as well as possible post diagnosis.
These services are a retreat for all people with cancer and their families at the PA Hospital and currently includes activities such as:
• cooking classes
• physiotherapy & exercise wellness
• massage & yoga
• Lymphoedema treatment and support
• leisure activities such as gaming consoles and movies which help take patients mind off the stress of cancer treatment
• pet therapy
• nutrition and dietary support
• programs to counteract cancer related fatigue
• social and emotional support
This year we are hoping to raise funds to help the QCWI build a brand new website which will allow some of the initiative’s services to be offered to cancer patients right across Queensland and even the world.
Go Dry this July and select Princess Alexandra Hospital as your beneficiary to help us raise vital funds to help us provide hope and support to people diagnosed with cancer.
TIBAH’S FAMILY GO DRY IN JULY TO RAISE FUNDS FOR THE PA
Gary and Melissa O'Brien are currently going without alcohol for a whole month to raise funds to help cancer patients being treated at the PA Hospital (PAH) - one of whom is their 19-year-old son Tibah.
The Morningside based parents are undertaking Dry July this year to raise funds for the PA's cancer ward where Tibah is currently being treated for testicular cancer.
According to Gary, Tibah's love of basketball played a part in his cancer being picked up when it did.
"He'd played basketball on a Sunday night and fell over on his wrist, and he came home and mentioned this to his mother, the next day he gave her a call and said can you make me a doctor's appointment, Melissa asked is your wrist ok, to which Tibah replied not really, but my right testis is four times the size of my left one and it really hurts," Gary said.
"He went to the doctors, and they gave him a referral for an ultrasound appointment, and Tibah, loving his basketball made that appointment for the next day in the afternoon because the next morning he had Swooper Hoopers, where he helps out with coaching young kids through the Swooper Hoopers program at Coomera.
"He went down to Swooper Hoopers, and only lasted about half an hour, and he ended up going to the Gold Coast Hospital thanks to a teammate and coach where they did an ultrasound and obviously found a tumour and sent him for a CT scan.
"His mum and I were at work and drove down there to give him a lift back to save him driving. We picked him up and got a bite to eat and were driving back letting the family know that he has a tumour.
"During the night we'd missed some calls from a private number and when Tibah woke up he had the same missed calls with a message saying get to emergency immediately. This was devastating news as it was a big unknown to us."
The family rushed Tibah to the emergency department at Brisbane's Mater Hospital where his diagnosis was confirmed and Tibah was operated on. Tibah was then transferred over to the Oncology Ward at the PAH for further treatment under the guidance of Dr Rick Walker.
Tibah is now seven weeks into chemotherapy treatment at the PAH with his cancer unfortunately having spread to other parts of his body, however Gary said he has been proud of the resilience his son has shown through what has been one of the toughest times in his young life.
"He's doing a great job I must admit, he is taking it in his stride and staying upbeat and positive," he said.
"He gets down to basketball at the North Gold Coast Seahawks anytime he can even if it is just sitting on the sideline helping to coach, he does that whenever he feels well and up to the drive. The Seahawks community have been amazing and very supportive, on occasion they have even taken the time to drive him home when he has hit a wall. They keep him motivated and positive and safe."
"Treatment wise all the feedback we're getting from the doctor is that he is doing really well."
The first class treatment and care his son has received during his visits for chemotherapy at the PAH was what prompted the family's decision to undertake Dry July.
"They're fantastic, all the nurses are just great people and so is Rick, everyone there has been really good and helpful" he said.
"Tibah and ourselves wanted to give back, and I joined up and read that you can actually make a team and get other people to join, so my wife got involved and we formed a team and went from there.
"It's just our way of saying thanks to everyone at the PA for all they've done for Tibah."
Gary said he took comfort knowing the funds raised through Dry July would go towards patient support initiatives that benefit cancer patients at the PAH, like Tibah, and was full of gratitude for everyone who had donated so far, which included families from Tibah's beloved basketball club the North Gold Coast Seahawks, family members, work colleagues and friends.
"Tibah has noticed people in treatment less fortunate than he is and really wanted to give back a little to help both the patients and staff and to say thank you."
You can donate to support the O'Brien's Dry July efforts here.
High-speed Wi-Fi installation at the Princess Alexandra Hospital thanks to Dry July fundraising
Dry July funds have enabled the PA Research Foundation to install free high-speed Wi-Fi for cancer patients facing lengthy hospital stays.
Hospital stays during cancer treatment can be an isolating experience, particularly during a year like 2020. Being able to access free Wi-Fi from hospital beds will help reduce the emotional distance between patients and their vital support network, as well as providing a crucial distraction from the circumstances that brought them to the hospital ward.
Nguyen 'Thai' Dang's Story
The care shown to Nguyen Thai Dang since he first came to the oncology ward of the Princess Alexandra Hospital in 2018 for chemotherapy to treat leukemia, ended in him nicknaming the PA ‘The Hilton of Hospitals’ and becoming not only a survivor but a champion of the hospital and its staff.
Thai, as he is known to his friends, checked into the PA’s Oncology ward at the request of haematologists on October 22, due to his white blood cell count sliding downward for a matter of months.
“There was a trial treatment organized by PA Hospital and Norvatis Pharmaceutical that would allow me to have a path to treatment that would be less of a burden to Australian taxpayers. Looking at the results of my last blood test, I decided to get on the trial. It was a win-win for both: I would get the treatment and the medical science team could get new weapons to fight the Leukemia disease,” Thai says.
Thai spent around 6 weeks, in the PA including stints in both Oncology, ICU and Ward 3C and multiple trips to the X-Ray and CT Scanning departments. Reflecting on his treatment journey he has nothing but praise for all who helped him beat the disease, including the range of services that were on offer to help support patients.
“I was so impressed with the hospital and its staff, the service and care from doctors and nurses are first class,” he says.
Thai, who still visits the PA once a year to see his liver specialist Dr Powell, went on to become a valued fundraiser for the hospital such is his gratitude towards the level of care, has a simple message for anyone thinking of donating to the hospital through Dry July or other initiatives.
“Take a tour and visit some patients (could be their friends or relatives). A talk to doctors will also be encouraged. Once they see the “good fruits” they will embrace the “good trees”,” he says.
Funds raised through Dry July will help expand Cancer Wellness Initiative, where patients receiving treatment for cancer like Thai are enabled, nurtured and empowered to access evidence-based support at a time and place that works for individual needs to enrich their life outside of treatment.
For more information on the Wellness Initiative see: https://www.qldcancerwellness.org/
Kind Hands Massage Program
One of the many programs made possible through 2019 Dry July funding at the PA Hospital is the Kind Hands Massage Program.
As a result of an outpatient survey prepared by the Princess Alexandra Hospital’s (PAH) Cancer Services Division in 2018 examining what wellness meant for patients attending cancer services, and what could be done to improve their wellbeing, relaxation and massage were recurrent.
Subsequently, the Cancer Wellness Initiative group began working with PAH Volunteer Services to establish the Kind Hands Massage program in 2019. A select team of volunteers now offers gentle hand or foot massages to patients on Ward 2E and in Day Care Oncology on Tuesdays and Thursdays, in the morning and afternoon.
Feedback from patients has been overwhelmingly positive with an increase in their mood and comments such as “I feel like I’m in a spa”, and “it’s a nice relaxing way to take your mind off things for a little while”.
Our vision for this service is like all our wellness programs it continues to grow and develop, and we will be able to offer a wider group of patients the opportunity to access hand or foot massage five days a week.
For more information on the Kind Hands Massage Program and other wellness initiatives head to https://www.qldcancerwellness.org/