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

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.

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.

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 

Entertainment Items

Purchase of various items for SolarisCare Cancer Support Centres will offer patients a welcome distraction while they are undergoing treatment or during extended stays in hospital. Portable devices will provide patient enjoyment and entertainment through uploaded electronic books, movies, TV series, etc.

SolarisCare will purchase:

- iPads
- Kindles
- Head phones
- Movies/eBooks
- Puzzle and crossword books
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Magazine subscriptions