With face to face sessions cancelled due to the pandemic, our Clinical Psychology team worked to reinvent our Living Fully with the Cancer Experience sessions, designed for patients who have completed their treatment. We were so excited to launch our six week pilot program, virtually, in October 2021!
Classes were capped at eight participants to ensure an intimate experience. Psychologists Susan and Donna described the sessions as ‘therapeutic, rather than supportive in style, covering a range of themes to help reduce stress, facilitate coping, and encourage participants to engage more fully in their life despite uncertainty and distress”
To truly immerse themselves in the sessions, each participant received a carefully curated Dry July funded self-care pack delivered to their home. The pack included a yoga mat, journal and pen, massage ball set, high end tea set, organic hand cream and lip balm and a sensory glitter liquid timer tube.
One patient described receiving the pack, ‘I felt good unpacking it. Like someone cared and was thinking about thoughtful things to make me happy. I love the journal. I think it is a good idea to get thoughts, feelings and ideas down in. I wouldn’t change a thing. I think everything was very carefully handpicked.’
The sessions are a great example of cancer services staff persisting in difficult times to meet the needs of patients. With the support of Dry July, the program will run multiple times again in 2022 and has expanded to include a one day early diagnosis workshop, focused on education, validation and normalisation and how the nervous system reacts to crisis and trauma and how to work with it.
Knowing this was a Dry July funded initiative, we asked patients if they are likely to participate or donate to the Dry July campaign in 2022. We were so very pleased with this response, which we found heart-warming ‘I did it this year! I raised over $1000 for Wollongong Hospital/Illawarra Cancer Care Centre and I intend to again this year!’