The Wesley Hospital Choices Cancer Support Centre

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No one is ever prepared for cancer, but the Wesley Hospital Choices Cancer Support Centre (Choices) can help people through the emotional turmoil and difficult decision making process following a diagnosis, throughout treatment and beyond, as well as focusing on wellness after cancer.

Choices is a free community service operated under The Wesley Hospital. Our unique programs can improve the quality of life of those affected by cancer, and are available to people regardless of where they receive treatment.

Working within an interdisciplinary team from The Wesley Hospital, Choices provides a blend of clinical expertise, specialist peer support, complementary therapies, education and awareness to comprehensively support people with cancer, their family and friends.

If you or your family have been affected, you’ll know the toll that cancer can take on physical and mental health. The good news is – we’re here to help.

We provide support and care that no other organisation offers, and is only possible thanks to the generous support of the Dry July Foundation. If you would like to help us help others please sign up today to Go dry this July and raise vital funds for people affected by cancer, and for Choices.

If you would like to connect with us, please contact us on 1800 227 27, email us on: [email protected]

Latest Updates

Kerry's Story

Hi, my name is Kerry and I live in Brisbane. I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in August 2019, such a shock as no obvious signs which is often the case with this type of cancer. I started chemotherapy straight away, followed by surgery and more chemotherapy. I was lucky enough to be given a brochure about Choices Cancer Support Centre at the time and became a regular there participating in yoga and gym program, it was nice to be around others that knew what you were going through.

I was a very active person prior to my diagnosis and was determined to keep up with my fitness as much as I could. I joined the Choices Gym Program and really enjoyed the emphasis on staying healthy and fit during and after treatment. Having an exercise physiologist at each session to monitor progress and personally tailor a program for me was an absolute luxury. And of course the bonus was the wonderful support and friendship of others on the program. Catching up on Wednesday nights became a weekly highlight for me - a great excuse to get out, exercise and have a laugh!

The 6 week program came to an end all too soon but fortunately we were able to start on a maintenance program of weekly gym sessions. I've been doing this now for over a year and it has made such a huge difference to my life in terms of new friendships, fitness and my self-esteem. Nobody told me that a cancer diagnosis would affect my self-esteem the way my diagnosis did - you go from being a confident, outgoing person one moment to a frightened one in a matter of minutes.

Being able to maintain my fitness has given me a sense of control over my life that I felt I'd lost after my diagnosis. And being accountable to friends in the gym group has made me go to sessions even when I felt I was just too tired to go!

A heartfelt thanks to Dry July for making the Choices Gym Program possible. It has made a huge difference to many people and will continue to do so - thank you from all of us!

Picture below: Kerry attending Dry July funded Gym Maintenance Program.

The Wesley Hospital Choices Cancer Centre can continue to run its writing therapy thanks to Dry July

We are very grateful to receive ongoing support from the Dry July Foundation to continue providing writing therapies as a monthly face to face and/or Zoom program with virtual connections in between. This class is offered to people whose cancer had returned and who are having ongoing chemotherapy, radiation or other treatment.

The writing class supports participants to compose letters, poetry and stories for their families and friends about their lives. This is sometimes very difficult for people to undertake, so having support is integral to the success of the program. In addition, this class provides a safe place for people to talk about their feelings, worries and share their thoughts with others going through the same/similar journey.

Thank you to Dry July Foundation and all Dry July participants for your ongoing support. Without you, none of this would be possible.

Sadly, Meg, who was an integral part of writing therapies through running our classes, passed away in February 2022. She leaves an incredible legacy of friendship, love, creation and support at Choices. In honour of Meg and in recognition of the importance of writing therapy for both patients and their families, ur intention is to continue these workshops with the support of Dry July.

Writing therapies have been proven to support and positively influence a person’s wellbeing and rehabilitation during and after cancer treatment. The anonymous feedback below has been provided to us by our participants.

• “I always wanted to write things for my family, I am so pleased I did this, Meg bought lots of tools and resources for us. We did exercises to get us writing, looked at quotes, listened to music and talked together. Two hours disappeared in a flash”.

• “It felt good to write and let go of any self-judgment during the sessions”.

• “Connecting together and realising we all had similar fears and concerns was helpful to me, I felt so alone with my diagnosis. Meg helped me express this in writing, being with like minded caring people allowed me to be able to share and not add to my family’s load. Thank you Meg and Choices, and thankyou to all the people who did dry July to make a difference to people with cancer. “

• “This writing course has provided me with the tools and information I need to write. But most of all it has provided me with a safe environment to become more confident in writing. I was somewhat fearful towards writing in a way that was unguarded and unedited. Until I learnt through this course to just write. Just write rather than put it off or wait for the idea to write about, just start writing and see where it goes. The exercises undertaken helped me practice this and realise that it works. I have used the skills outside these workshops to help with any emotional issues that I find hard to verbally articulate”.

Choices Cancer Care Centre can continue to offer its Gym Maintenance Program to cancer patients

Thanks to the ongoing support from Dry July Foundation, and the funds raised through Dry July 2021, the Choices Cancer Care Centre is able to continue to offer its Gym Maintenance Program to cancer patients who comes to Choices centre.

The Choices Cancer Care Centre provides each participant with a tailored program specific to the type of surgery and treatment they are receiving or have received. Their programs are updated as participant’s progress through their first 6-week sessions and then move into the gym maintenance group sessions for an additional 3 months.

Our specialised exercise physiologist Sarah has shared her experience on the impacts that this program provides,

“This program demonstrates significant physical, social and psychological benefit to participants involved. The program facilitates engagement of exercise in a supportive and safe group environment as well empowering participants to increase self-management and long-term exercise maintenance. Participants report reduction in fatigue levels, reduction in pain, increased capacity to engage in activities of daily living, increased self -confidence, increased global exercise volume and improved fitness. From pre and post evaluations participants have shown significant improvements in cardio-respiratory fitness, global body strength and quality of life. These positive changes, as a result of increased exercise support, can assist in reducing disease burden, mitigating short and long- term side effects of treatment and assist in returning to a prior level of function”.

And here are some additional testimonies that have been anonymously shared with us by our participants:

• “I didn’t know what to expect with the Gym maintenance program, it’s been great because the exercise physiologist has helped so much, she changes the program up for me and works on different aspects of strength and movement. I have a program I can do at home now too. I am back at work and busy but I really feel this gym program is where I feel safe with knowledgeable people who understand my cancer.”

• “It has been great having such a flexible program, I did the initial Gym introduction program and now I’m hooked. I never thought I would be a gym goer but this has really helped my confidence and my body image”.

• I found the program to be of great benefit both mental and physical health. I like the way I can ask questions about all sorts of things relating to my cancer and that my doctor is kept informed.

On behalf of Choices Cancer Care Centre and all the people accessing this program, thank you for supporting Dry July. Your generosity enables us to truly create a positive impact on the lives of people going through or recovering from cancer.

Dry July fundraising enables Choices to fund a Gym Maintenance Program for people affected cancer

The Gym Maintenance Program provides a safe place for people experiencing cancer to improve their physical and emotional wellbeing and meet other fellow cancer survivors.

The program is coordinated by the Choices Cancer Support Centre, and is open to any cancer patient regardless of their place of diagnosis or treatment.

As a result of your fundraising efforts, Choices are also able to provide Art and Writing Therapies for people experiencing cancer. This program also provides a safe place for people to engage and meet other fellow cancer survivors.

On behalf of all the patients, their families and staff at The Wesley Hospital Choices Cancer Support Centre, we would like to thank you for your support and contribution to making a positive difference in the lives of people living with cancer.

Your support will allow Wesley Hospital to continue to provide Wellness after Cancer Programs

My name is Sue Bohler. I was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer in late 2018. This is when my path crossed with the Wesley Choices team.

Choices, my amazing husband and beautiful daughter support me through some of my darkest days. Achieving lasting lifestyle changes can be challenging at the best of times.

Throw COVID-19 into the mix and it’s terrifying and just plain scary. The addition of COVID-19 has a significant impact on my cancer experience. You are super sensitive to your surrounds and see everything as a threat to your wellbeing. Cancer has to take a back seat so you can deal with coronavirus. It happened so quickly and you can’t catch your breath.

Everything literally stopped and I found myself disconnected from life, friends and family. My silver lining during the pandemic is Choices.

Choices quickly reached out and organised zoom group events. It has been fantastic and to be honest a lifeline. Attending the Women’s Cancer Wellness Program, I can reconnect and focus on health and living; managing the concerns during and after treatment helps take back control of your life. We also look at steps on how to navigate through difficult times and cope with stress, fatigue, sleep, COVID-19 and dealing with anxiety.

I have made some amazing friends and if it wasn’t for zoom, I’d hate to think what my head space looked like.

The Choices Zoom Support Groups has been fundamental in keeping sane perspectives in the face of insane situations.