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Solaris Cancer Care

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$49,294.62 raised

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In 2018, Solaris Cancer Care will celebrate 18 years of making a difference to Western Australians living with cancer. We are a largely volunteer based organisation and as we are not the recipient of ongoing government funding, we rely 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 quality of life. We provide access to approved resources and services to assist with the emotional and physical effects of cancer diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and palliative care.

Our five centres across the state, provide a range of support, information, education and exercise programs, as well as access to counselling and safe complementary integrated therapies such as reflexology and massage. 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 regional and rural patients.

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, thank you for helping us to support, empower and nurture the West Australian Cancer Community.

Latest Updates

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. 

Patient Services

SolarisCare Foundation is using Dry July funds to offer additional services to cancer patients. This includes:

- The engagement of a counsellor/s to deliver one on one sessions and engaging guest speakers to present to patients on a variety of relevant educational subjects including nutrition, exercise during cancer treatment and the like.

- Provision of laptops with internet access and head phones to allow patients to maintain real time contact with their family and friends at home. Many patients travel from regional and remote areas of Western Australia and being able to speak to family 'face to face' can make a huge difference to their emotional wellbeing.

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Regional Patient Ambassador Barbara Cruickshank

Barbara lives by the philosophy ‘you can do anything you put your mind to’ which is clearly portrayed through her positive, effervescent nature. She describes her cancer experience as more of a detour in the road rather than a journey, a deviation that started 18 months ago… 

Having worked in the allied health industry for several years, I instinctively knew something was not quite right. After several meetings and a constant feeling of exhaustion, the results of a blood test gave me the answers. 

Swiftly I was off to Albany Health Campus to be greeted by doctors, have biopsies ordered and treatment plans discussed. This is when it all became very real. 

After examining all options with the charming John Lindsay, we decided I would receive six rounds of chemotherapy. After completing two rounds and many a blood test, the treatment was intensified and another six more sessions of chemotherapy were required.   

This is where my trip with SolarisCare began. Whilst I was receiving chemotherapy, the SolarisCare team were always there. They provided me with massages, company and support. Without this amazing group of volunteers, my six-hour chemo sessions would have been unbearable.   

I finished chemo in October and I am now in maintenance until the end of May. Soon I will need to go back for more blood tests and maybe another bone marrow biopsy. In spite of my slight detour I am feeling so good I have gone back to work for a few hours a week.  

After my treatments had finished the amazing group of people at SolarisCare provided me with support I needed and established friendships that will last forever. It is due to this that I pledge myself to the great cause of Dry July.   

Safe trip, Barb xx 

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