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

Redesign and refurbishment of the SolarisCare South West Centre

Patients and families in the South West of WA utilise the SolarisCare South West centre in Bunbury as an area of respite where they can seek information, receive complementary therapies, be counselled or simply relax.

The SolarisCare Foundation plans on redeveloping and refreshing the centre and the surrounding gardens and grounds which are spread over 2000m2, utilising funds from Dry July and other supporters.

The project is creating additional multi-purpose areas to enhance the experience of patients and their carers and increase the capacity of the centre to deliver therapies and offer areas of quiet restfulness. The current reception area will be converted to house a dedicated library/resource area, along with several tub chairs and a coffee table to provide a pleasant and quiet reading nook. The coordinators office will be transformed into an additional therapy/counselling room. An outdoor reflection area will also be introduced.

Focusing on patients at SolarisCare Cancer Support Centres

SolarisCare Cancer Support Centres provide free supportive care services to all adult cancer patients and their primary carers. Dry July funds will be used at SolarisCare centres in Perth (Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital), Bunbury (South West) and Albany (Great Southern) towards a range of fantastic projects aimed at improving the cancer journey for patients from across Western Australia, including:

  • Stylish and comfortable headwear for patients who may lose their hair during treatment, to assist with their self-esteem and ‘normalcy’
  • Art therapy supplies to support and assist in symptom alleviation
  • Blanket warmers
  • Yoga equipment for SCGH
  • Appointment service for remote GS patients
  • Lip balm for pamper packs
  • Christmas decorations
  • Linen for new SW therapy rooms
  • Improved main door access to SolarisCare SCGH

SolarisCare Patient Ambassador: Deb Walker

“I can thank my cancer for lots of things and contrary to mainstream belief, most of them are positive.”

Deb Walker, a former patient at SolarisCare’s Cancer Support Centre in Albany, has kindly stepped forward as an ambassador for Dry July. Here’s Deb’s story.

Christmas Eve 2013, I was diagnosed with stage 1: grade 3 breast cancer.  

I was now a member of the “C Team” and you wouldn’t have a clue what that means except losing your hair! Confusion reigned supreme.

I prepared to surround myself with professionals who would guide me through the cancer maze.

Frustrated and angry, I realised I had a voice and I can use it to nurture myself, so I asked questions and demanded that this busy Cancer Industry listened to me.

It was about this time on my journey I sought help for my mental, emotional and spiritual state of mind.  Something I find mainstream medicine knows nothing about, they have to remain analytical.

SolarisCare Great Southern at the Albany Campus was my haven, within the walls of traditional medicine I found I could make appointments for free massages, reflexology, reiki or just sit and have a chat and a cuppa. I regained some faith that modern medicine was accepting the importance of healing the whole body not just the affected site.

After six rounds of Chemo I travelled to Perth for six weeks of radiation treatment and had to re-start sourcing my support team however, I knew to go straight to the SolarisCare Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. Again I had found the haven that is a privilege to those in “C Team”.

I sought free counselling, offered by SolarisCare, because I needed help relating to others after my life and changed so much.  After the “seriousness” of the last 8 months I needed to relearn and accept how this was going to affect my life from this point forward. Through SolarisCare I was able to empower myself.

I will forever be grateful to the SolarisCare Foundation for giving me these precious, priceless spaces and moments of healing.

This is why I did not hesitate to support Dry July because it raises funds to support for ALL cancer patients and their families.

SolarisCare Patient Ambassador: Robina Crook

“Once I started to visit SolarisCare I could not stop. It is a place I could look forward to going to each week. It was an outing each week that gave me such a positive experience. There was no chance of hearing bad news at SolarisCare it was a really important place for respite from any invasive treatments.” 

Robina Crook was diagnosed with breast cancer at a point in her life when everything seemed to be going well. A successful and talented woman, she faced her diagnosis bravely and appreciated the support offered by SolarisCare. Here’s Robina’s story.

Trying to Keep Things Normal

Life was working out. I was passionate about my job and most importantly, my partner and I had moved in together and were starting to make lots of lovely plans for the future.

I still remember my diagnosis, I was referred to a breast clinic by a doctor but life was hectic and work was busy, a trip to the doctor just seemed more of an inconvenience.  I had these scares before and they had ended up being nothing so all the time remained surprising calm. However this time was different, within days things started to unravel.

I don’t remember telling my partner I was diagnosed with breast cancer, we think we probably nervously laughed about it, and decided just to do all we could to fix it. Telling my family was harder, we had to overcome the vast distance between us and the tough exterior associated with being farmers.

During it all I was still calm. Determined to keep working and have a sense of purpose in my life. As I progressed down this journey, I knew more and became more frightened. Life took on this strange give and take momentum.

Treatment started, it was scary. Surgery followed by the need for chemotherapy, this is when my life really started to change; I was told I could not have children naturally. Tears became the norm.

Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and a mastectomy were going to give me a chance at life, but it was also taking away our chance of a family and my femininity. Chemotherapy had taken my hair, my chance at continuing my work and it affected my ability to regulate my body temperature.

I fell into a bit of a hole. While I was terrified, I had previously been able to get myself out of bed and go to work but now it seemed like everything was being taken from me.

It is when life seems a bit too hard that magical things can happen. Friends and family helped in any way they could. It was such a comfort to my partner and I to have a constant flow of friends sending us messages, food or sitting with us. To help, I enrolled in a meditation course; I just wanted to find a way to slow down my mind, this was when I was introduced to SolarisCare.

Once I started to visit SolarisCare I could not stop. It is a place I could look forward to going to each week. It was an outing each week that gave me such a positive experience.  There was no chance of hearing bad news at SolarisCare it was a really important place for respite from any invasive treatments.

When diagnosed and going through treatment, it can be difficult to see family, friends and colleagues. Often, unintentionally they would say something to make me cry. Interaction with people became an emotional minefield. At SolarisCare, each appointment is one hour of rest and relaxation with no chance of emotional confusion.

I decided that I needed to give myself a chance to recover in the best possible way. Recovery for me included stilling my mind, massage and reflexology was an important part of that. Each week I managed to get myself off the couch to go see the positive and happy team at SolarisCare. Over the last year, the volunteers at SolarisCare have gotten to know me well and I really look forward to seeing them each week.

The volunteers would tell me how they managed to recover a passion for life after their experience with cancer. One wonderful volunteer at SolarisCare brought in her needle-work she had created during her treatment. It was beautiful and inspired me to be creative. I decided to enter into a costume competition. This was a wonderful way of focusing on something other than me. I named my costume “Alarum (Latin: wings)” it represented a colourful and beautiful metamorphoses rather than the one I felt I was going through.

Now, my partner and I are beginning to explore our options for a family. I never thought I would be in this situation and it seems very surreal. For us family is about a group of people that love and care for each other, it can come in many different forms. We don’t know where this will lead us.

But what we do know, together we will make the most of it, whatever comes our way.

The SolarisCare experience is such that it has motivated me to willingly volunteer to support the Foundation to raise the much needed funds for this incredible free support service to continue. 

I am proud to be a 2015 SolarisCare Dry July ambassador and encourage the community to sign up or donate.

SolarisCare Community Garden

Through the support of Dry July, SolarisCare Foundation recently undertook the development of a purpose-built community garden within Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Nedlands (WA).

The garden will be an oasis within the hospital setting, providing a safe place for patients and their families to take a break and relax.  

Clinical Haematologist at SCGH, Founder and Medical Director of SolarisCare Foundation, Dr David Joske, said patients needed a tranquil location to cope with their diagnoses and treatment. “There are times patients simply need to get away to take some time out for themselves – this time of solitude and reflection has been proven as effective in enhancing treatment,” Dr Joske said.

SolarisCare Cancer Support Centres are the leading provider of integrative care for cancer across Australia, providing free vital support services to all types of adult cancer patients and their primary carers.

SolarisCare has opened the Community Garden to all patients, families, volunteers and staff within the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, providing a place of reflection and respite.

The area which had been previously unusable and inaccessible marked the beginning of an incredible journey.