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Solaris Cancer Care

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Professor David Joske started Solaris Cancer Care for two reasons: firstly, to give his patients a team around them to help with the journey and provide access to safe and supervised complementary therapies; and secondly, because he sometimes saw people come out after cancer with a much richer appreciation of life.

Good can come out of bad, and Professor Joske wanted to give his patients the best chance of this happening.

In 2019, Solaris Cancer Care will celebrate 19 years of making a difference to West Australians living with cancer. As a largely volunteer based organisation, the delivery of our cancer support services relies heavily on the generosity of the community and our Dry July’ers.

One of Australia’s leaders in integrative cancer care, Solaris offers a helping hand to guide people towards the quality of life that Professor Joske envisioned all those years ago. The grief, the confusion, the fear, the bargaining - are what everyone who works in the cancer space, witnesses daily. Cancer doesn’t make an appointment. It can’t be cancelled due to lack of interest or deferred because of a cold or fatigue but Solaris can ease the burden of a cancer diagnosis by providing access to approved resources and services to assist with the emotional and physical effects of cancer diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and palliative care.

Patients who attend Solaris Cancer Care welcome the opportunity to take up different services such as reflexology and mindfulness-based stress reduction, massage and music therapy. They find a place where people understand what they are going through, and where some nice things can happen amidst the trauma of their illness and where they can get a lift that doesn’t seem possible anywhere else. In fact, we know from work done in Solaris and elsewhere that massage reduces anxiety, and that music therapy improves depression scores in cancer patients.

Our five centres across the state, provide a diverse range of support, information, education and exercise programs as well as access to counselling and safe complementary integrated therapies. All services are given free of charge or at nominal cost.

Our vision is to bring humanity to healthcare through care, compassion and the community. We believe that treating the whole person and not just the disease promotes overall wellbeing and improved quality of life across all stages of cancer. Founded on a strong medical base and consistently refined through our commitment to sound research and education, we look to improve access to support services for metropolitan, regional and rural patients alike.

All monies raised through Dry July directly benefit the community, providing emotional and physical support to all cancer patients and their families.

On behalf of our patients, their families, our volunteers and staff, we invite you to support Solaris Cancer Care this Dry July and in turn, help us to support, empower and nurture the West Australian Cancer Community.

Latest Updates

A Patient Story - Mark Lane

Dry July ambassador for Solaris Cancer Care Centres, Mark Lane,  talks about his recent experience and how the wellness programs provided by Solaris Cancer Care gave some relief whilst undergoing cancer treatment. 

Following a head and neck cancer diagnosis in late 2017, Mark was undergoing treatment as an inpatient in hospital.

"The love and support from family and friends combined with full time care from my wife was clearly critical. However, it was the care from strangers that touched me in a powerful way, it was spiritually enlightening", Mark says.

"My first experience with Solaris was during a Chemo session. As lovely lady walked purposefully towards me, my initial thought was that she must have mistaken me for someone else – so genuine, so concerned, so caring to me, a total stranger - would you be interested in a Reiki session? Weirdly it was something I had been considering."

"That treatment gave me some respite for the next 24 hours and over the following months I became a regular visitor. Not only benefiting from the treatments, but that genuine care from total strangers was a highlight for me – I am truly grateful for that experience. I made a commitment in my mind during that time - that when I was able, I would repay these people, this place in some way."

"Whilst currently I am not out of the woods, I am back working, surfing and planning a new trip with my family to Japan. I am proud to say I have been active with Solaris offering my services and contacts to assist in fundraising activities."

"More recently I was humbled to be asked to act an Ambassador for Solaris for the next year. Something I am honored to undertake – it is my way of giving back to this wonderful Organisation."

"My hope is that through my efforts, more people suffering from the effects of cancer will continue to have access to the services as I did. Now that my luck and health has returned, I can use my influence and motivation to raise the much needed funds for this incredible free support service as well as promoting the exceptional role that the Solaris Cancer Care outlets perform in our Community."


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Solaris Cancer Care Centres receives a grant from the Dry July Foundation

We're proud to announce that Solaris Cancer Care Centres has received a grant from the Dry July Foundation 2018 Grant Program.

The grant will go towards the following: 

• Continued delivery of services at five centres, including exercise groups, support groups, art therapy and complementary therapies

• Patient information booklets to support cancer patients to make informed and safe choices about the options for managing their cancer journey and the associated symptoms of their disease and treatment

• Complimentary patient comfort packs including organic soaps, lip balms, hair and scalp products and information booklets

• Patient Support Courses including educational resources, one on one counselling, group therapies such as poetry writing, exercise activities, and other resources to assist individuals to cope and adapt to their current situation


Solaris Cancer Care Dry July Ambassador 2018 - Lencie Wendon

My cancer journey started in late 2013 when, aged 48, I was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. And although the ultimate destination of my cancer train is still unknown, the first stop on the line was definitely hell. 

2014 was a blur of invasive treatments. A double mastectomy was quickly followed by chemo and radiotherapy, after which I assumed I would start to get my life back. Instead the treatment caused a series of traumatic complications and side-effects that I was not prepared for and that still make daily life challenging, both mentally and physically, more than four years on.

After I was shunted through the various standard treatments, then fell off the end of the hospital conveyor belt, I concluded that conventional cancer medicine is quite good at saving lives, but even better at destroying our quality of life.

Cancer takes us to another country and many of us need help to find our way back to the world everyone else seems to be living in. Solaris Cancer Care is the bridge that spans both worlds for me. The staff and volunteers give us the compassion and real healing that is so often lacking in the hospital system, where clinicians often downplay the damage the treatments cause – because, hey, you’re alive after all!

I’m still a high-risk patient and one of the hardest things to deal with in the longer term is living with uncertainty about the future. The fear of recurrence is always there and we have to find a way to live with it. This kind of experience can make it hard to relate to friends and family in the same old ways, and not everyone lasts the distance. Thankfully, I have met many brave and beautiful souls through Solaris and made wonderful new friendships with people who understand how cancer has changed me because they are going through a version of the same thing.

Through the complementary therapies, support groups, courses, workshops and guest speaker events I have been lucky enough to access at Solaris, I have come to know many cancer patients. And only after hearing their stories have I realised that my experience is not so unusual. This cancer race is a marathon not a sprint.

Solaris Cancer Care is so much more than just the staggering range of support services they provide. It is a healing community of staff, volunteers, patients and their loved ones who, together, pick up the pieces and help us glue ourselves back together.

I have no doubt that Solaris has saved my mental health, and possibly by extension, my life. I am a stronger person today than I was before cancer because of Solaris.

I am proud to be their Dry July Ambassador for 2018, and encourage everyone to dig deep so they can continue to support the thousands of West Australians whose lives they enrich every year.

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Nilla's story

Nilla is vibrant and kind-hearted; however, like many of us, she was content with how life was. That was until her diagnosis; an experience she attributes to changing her life…

On the 19th October 2004, I heard the words that I never wanted or thought I would ever hear “Nilla, you have Breast Cancer”.

My Breast Cancer diagnosis should have and could have stopped me from doing, being, and achieving. However, the journey has been life changing and with the help of John my husband, family, and friends, I am proud to say that I am a twelve plus year thriver.

I knew I had to face my Breast Cancer challenge head on and do whatever it took to stay alive.

I was introduced to Solaris Cancer Care when undergoing my Radiotherapy treatment at Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital in 2005. At the time, I was so grateful for Solaris, as I had left my life and husband in Albany to face my treatments alone.

When you feel isolated, scared, alone and unsure of your future it is invaluable to know that, you have people who are full of understanding and compassion by your side, this gives you hope and a feeling of being wanted and loved.

These volunteers are ‘selfless’ giving of their time to help with the emotional and physical effects of cancer.

Feeling very blessed to have survived and thrived, I knew I had to take action to improve my life and to get me to where I am today.

My breast cancer diagnosis showed me how much of life I took for granted. For me this alarm bell woke me up.

I was on a treadmill doing the same thing day in and day out…THEN the wake-up call to understand and know that I had an amazing life, doing what I loved to do and I had taken it for granted…

In 2006 after my diagnosis and treatment, I embarked on a Personal Development crusade to improve my body, mind, and my spirit. As a benefit of this journey, I learnt to understand my body and my mind realising that with the right tools we can support ourselves. One of the ways I have discovered was through travel. This is a huge passion of mine (along with food).

Now I truly understand the importance of doing what I love, which to me is travelling and helping others to have life changing travel experiences.

Breast Cancer for me was a gift to make me wake up to what is possible…

Because of this life changing experience, John, myself, and the team at Travel with Purpose are working together to help local charities in our community, such as Solaris Cancer Care.

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Therapy Sessions in Bunbury

Dry July funding will support weekly therapy sessions at the SolarisCare SW centre in Bunbury. These will include massage, reflexology and other accredited and evidence based individual and group therapies. These therapies support symptom relief from cancer treatment, including and not limited to:

- reduction in anxiety and stress; and
- improvements in insomnia, appetite and energy levels.

Group sessions also provide a sense of community in a safe and nurturing environment. 

Donate to Solaris Cancer Care