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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 helps Queenslanders through the emotional turmoil and difficult decision making process following a diagnosis, throughout treatment and beyond, as well as focusing on wellness after cancer.

Our unique programs aim to improve your quality of life and are available to both men and women regardless of where you receive treatment. The Wesley Hospital Choices Cancer Support Centre, or Choices, is a free community service operated under The Wesley Hospital. Working within an interdisciplinary team from The Wesley Hospital, Choices provide a blend of clinical expertise, specialist peer support, complementary therapies, education and awareness to comprehensively support people with cancer, their family and friends. To find out more please call us on 1800 227 27, email us on: [email protected] or drop in to our centre located at The Wesley Hospital.

Latest Updates

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.

Your fundraising has helped Choices Cancer Support Centre support people like Meg

Meg Welchman was diagnosed at age 37, just months after the birth of her second child, with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She has survived a further five devastating recurrences of cancer since then and has found that a mix of chemotherapy, courage, connection and creativity all help her to continue living well.

Meg began attending art classes at Choices in 2010 which she says is "A great way to connect with others in a similar situation whilst meditatively moving colour around a page".

"Cancer can fill you full of fear and Choices has helped in keeping me well mentally and physically - with counselling, art and yoga". Most of these classes are funded through the proceeds of Dry July campaigns, which is why it is so important to continue supporting this great foundation and sign up to raise funds for Choices.

Meg, who is also a psychologist, wrote a book about coping with adversity in 2015. Her book, "This Present Moment", has allowed her to continue to help others. This year Meg is facilitating a "What's Your Story" writing workshop series for people with metastatic cancer as part of the Choices program. "It is a great honour to be able to give something back to fellow survivors".

By supporting Dry July you are helping people like Meg to access the support they need in order to help others live a creative, courageous and connected life with cancer.

Dry July funds enable workshops and webinars to continue at Choices Cancer Support Centre

Dry July fundraising enables Choices Cancer Support Centre to continue to provide the following programs for people affected by cancer in our community.

1. Rural and Regional Workshops

Choices recognises the demonstrated need for people in rural, regional, and remote regions to receive equality of care. To help meet this demand and fill a gap in services Choices, outreaches to families in these areas of Queensland and Northern New South Wales by providing a variety of workshops, information, and support.

The free 1800 227 271 number is available to provided easier access to everyone who needs to connect to Choices, but it is particularly beneficial for people in rural and regional areas.

Workshops

The workshops are conducted over a weekend. The content includes topics such as – Wellbeing after cancer: Managing the after effects of cancer and its treatments

- Menopause

­- Sexuality

- Intimacy

­- Finding hope and wellbeing

- Supporting yourself and others in your community

These workshops offer a safe environment where people can openly share and discuss their concerns. These sensitive topics are addressed with the use of humour and compassion to create a sense of ease in the audience.

2. Webinar - Virtual and face to face

Hosting a seminar has been on our agenda for some time, however, because of the pandemic, like many other programs these plans have been postponed. We would like to host a webinar, and if the pandemic permits, include a face to face component.

A webinar will enable a wider variety of people to access the presentations including those in rural and regional areas and outside the city centre, those who would otherwise be too unwell to attend in person, and those with other responsibilities such as family that may otherwise prevent them from attending.

Webinars also enable a wider variety of experts to present as they don’t need to leave their home or office or factor in travel time which would otherwise encroach on their busy timetables.

This format reduces expenses such as travel, accommodation, parking, and catering.

Dry July funds enable wellness activities to continue at Choices Cancer Support Centre

Dry July fundraising plus a generous grant from Dry July Foundation has enabled Choices Cancer Support Centre to continue to provide the following programs for people affected by cancer in our community.

1. Men's and Women’s Choices Gym Maintenance Program

For people completing cancer treatment, research demonstrates that maintaining an exercise program is an important factor in mitigating late and long-term side effects of cancer and cancer treatment. The exercise program also allows people to connect to others who are experiencing similar circumstances. Overall, this engagement can improve the mental health and wellbeing of our patients and directly impact their recovery.

2. Art, Writing, Music Therapies

Art, writing and music therapies have been proven to support and positively influence peoples wellbeing and rehabilitation during and after cancer treatment.

Writing may facilitate cognitive processing of the diagnosis and treatment relating to cancer. There is demonstrated benefit for patients in the palliative care setting where art and writing can be used to express thoughts and feelings not only for themselves but also for their loved ones.

Art involves the use of creative techniques such as drawing, painting, collage, colouring or sculpting to help people express themselves artistically and examine the psychological and emotional undertones in their art.

Music is different to music entertainment as it focuses on health, functioning and wellbeing. It is used to assist in many different situations, but is especially beneficial in supporting stress relief and managing anxiety and depression.

3. Wigs and Turbans

Hair loss is one of the most well-known side effects of cancer treatment. For many people, losing their hair can be extremely distressing and is often more feared than the treatment itself. This affects both men and women and is a constant reminder of what they are going through.

There is evidence that many women are concerned about their school-age and teen-age children who may feel uncomfortable because their mother’s appearance is different. For these women, wearing a wig often allows them to look “normal”, however many of our clients do not have the means for this additional expense. This support reduces the stress associated with the expense of sourcing and paying for a wig and positively impacts our patients’ emotional wellbeing.


Dry July funding helps The Wesley Hospital Choices Cancer Support Centre support people like Carly

Sometimes life throws you curve balls, the kind you never expected. Mine came in the form of a breast cancer diagnosis in 2019, it was just after my 30th birthday and I found a lump in Vietnam.

It can’t be cancer I assured myself, I’m far too young to get cancer. I was soon headed to Europe to start work in the busy summer tourist season ahead, but it wasn’t to be. On my return to London, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Not only was the lump cancerous but I had been told it had spread to my bones. I was told I had one chance and one chance only to fight this, I was also told I was going to die.

When I returned to Australia, I started all the medical treatments, but I knew that to beat cancer, medical treatments wouldn’t be enough. I would need to fight cancer with everything I had, by supporting my physical and my mental health, through support that must exist somewhere.

Throughout my treatment, Choices proved invaluable. When I needed a shoulder to cry on, when I needed advice to make treatment decisions, when I needed someone who could understand, who actually got it. Choices was there. The connections and the help available was a huge part of my recovery. The team at Choices supported me every step of the way and the lovely support from the other people that go to choices means I’m always in touch with people who know what’s its like to sit through chemo or across from the oncologist.

Now that I have a clean bill of health, I want to give back to the community in anyway that I can. By helping support organisations like Dry July and Choices. By advocating for people affected by cancer, especially in 2020 when many of our events and fundraisers are cancelled.

Life did indeed, throw me a curve ball, but choices helped me knock it right out of the park!

Read Carly’s full story here: www.dryjuly.com/2020/carlys-story


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