Dear Can Assist Community,

Another busy quarter filled with events and generous local community support for our branches. Thank you to everyone who gets involved with Can Assist, from arranging the events, participating or donating. Every dollar of assistance raised makes a meaningful contribution to what our network delivers. A special big thank you to our volunteers who show up rain, hail or shine – particularly in cold winter conditions that I see some of within these
pages!

I had the pleasure of attending Lilier Lodge’s 20th Birthday celebrations in May. The enormous amount of work undertaken by Margaret and her team of unwavering volunteers, created a lovely day of reflection and warmth.

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I’m connected to the country because I was very lucky to grow up on a sheep and wheat farm in Narromine. To be completely honest with you, it was a great way to be brought up I was very lucky, I actually joked that from a young age my parents already knew I was very competitive because when I was rounding up the sheep I would try to beat the sheep dog.

It feels right for me to be an ambassador – of Can Assist because I have my own story of my beautiful mum. She was only 26 years old when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. My brother and I were very young at the time but I still remember to this day her spending so much time in Sydney in hospital fighting this cancer . Its hard enough having cancer in your family, it’s just so tough, not only for the person who is dealing with the cancer but also for the family unit around them trying to cope, so for me I feel very honoured to be part of this charity.

Unfortunately my mother had cancer three times in her life, which was obviously incredibly challenging for not only her, but also for us as a family. I remember the second time she repeatedly had to come to Sydney, all that travel, you know, 400kms just to get to treatment. And it was in that moment that I thought, you know, wow, how lucky it was really for David and I, to be living here in Sydney at the time, to be able to look after her, when obviously she was very sick. It made me think of all the other country people that were out there, you know, how do they deal with it when you don’t actually have a support network in Sydney, not to mention accommodation, and the cost that that would entail.

Reflecting on that time when Mum was getting treatment for cancer, I look back at my father and think how challenging it would have been for him as well. Here he is, trying to keep a farm running, keeping sheep alive, doing everything that he needed to do for that all to survive whilst knowing his wife was going through this really difficult battle. Of course he would come to Sydney as much as he could, but I’m sure he would have wanted to be there all the time to support Mum especially when she was so ill after having chemotherapy.

It was lucky that we were there and I’m sure that’s what a lot of country people probably find very challenging, they just want to be there with their loved ones. But in reality, especially financially, that is very difficult, which is also very challenging for that patient the one who’s actually fighting the cancer and going through the treatment. I think that it’s not only financial support that you really need, it’s that emotional support as well.

At just 5 years of age, a routine scan at Tamworth hospital identified a tumour on Lucy’s kidney. Her parents Belle and Mitch were advised to drive directly to the emergency rooms at Randwick children’s hospital in Sydney. Lucy, Nanna and Mum all jumped in the car to make the 5-hour trip to Sydney. What they had expected to be a day or two of tests, turned into a 3 week stay.

After a barrage of scans and blood work, Lucy was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Under a general anaesthetic, Lucy would have a port inserted to administer what would be the first of 12 rounds of chemotherapy. Whilst Lucy could go home – she would need to travel back and forth every week to receive her chemotherapy. The 5-hour trip home typically taking 8 hours with Lucy being so sick after treatment.

Whilst the chemo was successful in shrinking the tumour, a partial nephrectomy was needed to remove the remains which saw Lucy in hospital a further 2.5 weeks. Lucy’s prognosis is good, but she continues to make regular trips to Sydney for scans.

Over the course of a few months, Lucy’s family travelled near 15,000km and had to pay 6 weeks of accommodation in Sydney. It was a whole family effort – with Mum and Dad juggling Lucy and her two younger siblings Tommy (3 yrs) and Pip (1yrs). Lucy’s Grandparents were a vital part of the story. Belle was due to complete her maternity leave with Pip but was forced to delay her return to work and Mitch took many extra weeks off work juggling all the challenges.

“The massive shift in our lives…our world literally got turned upside down…faced with a challenge like this…weekly chemotherapy in Sydney, split family life…the emotional toll and time that it takes on us as a family” Belle, Lucy’s Mum.

Can Assist helped out by providing petrol vouchers, grocery vouchers and the payment of utility bills. “To know that Can Assist came along and supported us as a safety net was incredible.” Belle, Lucy’s Mum.

Jess

Jess discovered she had Stage 3 Melanoma at the age of 35 – the average age of this diagnosis is 65 years old. She thought that she was just getting a fatty cyst removed from her right shoulder. Fortunately, her doctor sent it off for testing, as it was a surprise to get this cancer diagnosis, given her age.

Jess had to travelled to Sydney (400kms from her hometown) to have surgery to remove the cancer and all the lymph nodes under her right arm, as it had spread. Then Jess had to face 12 months of immunotherapy at Westmead Hospital in Sydney. If Jess lived in Sydney, she could have gone to work in the morning, have the procedure in the afternoon, be home that night, be at work the next day. Instead for Jess the process took 2-3 days, due to the distance she lived from the treatment centre, and the fatigue from the treatment.

Relating to the delivery of specific health services and specialist care in remote, rural and regional NSW.

Lita, Helen and MP’s

 

Can Assist members from our Orange and Forbes branches provided their feedback to the NSW State Governments Select Committee on Regional, Rural and Remote Health in May.

Out of pocket medication costs, rural healthcare staff shortages, IPTAAS and community transport all topics of discussion.

See here for our thoughts on non-emergency community transport, out of pocket medical costs for rural cancer patients and the state of palliative care.

 

 

The inaugural Sacred Syndicate SMC 2024 Hume Chapter Blanket Run raises $3145 for

Zac’s Place Inc. Australia and Can Assist Harden Murrumburrah.

 

They have done it again – the Sacred Syndicate SMC 2024 Hume Chapter Blanket Run has raised a whopping $3145 in one day.

The money has already been donated equally to Zac’s Place Inc Australia and Can Assist Harden Murrumburrah.

These guys make it look easy, but without the riders, sponsors, community groups and residents, they’d tell you they couldn’t possible achieve so much in so little time.

There were 54 riders registered for the trek.

The #32 lucky door prize winner, Dale chose to donate his prize to the greater cause, adding it to the funds that went to Zac’s Place Inc Australia and Can Assistance Harden Murrumburrah.

Special thanks went to raffle drawers Toby, Olivia and Gus who did an excellent job pulling out all the winning tickets on the day.

The National Treasurer and National Secretary were thanked for their assistance on the day as well.

The Sacred Syndicate SMC thanked the God Squad CMC, Copperheads SMC and the Road Rats SMC for joining them to make a difference in the community.

Thanks and praise also went to sponsors and community groups for their sponsorship and support which went above and beyond for the whole day.

 

May 2024, The Hilltops Phoenix

Can Assist Wagga Wagga and CareVan accepting the shared funds

 

RSM staff members enjoying the chance to present two wonderful local charities with the proceeds from our Charity Golf Day.
Our RSM crew love hosting the annual charity day and the participants always enjoy a round at the Wagga Country Club for a good cause.
With plenty of fun had and everyone keen to raise money, the RSM Charity Golf Day is a win for all.

 

9 May 2024, RSMWaggaWagga

Lyndal Walton, Maxine Andrews, Sandy Walker and David Walker

 

The Dubbo branch of CAN ASSIST (Cancer Assistance Network) conducted their annual major fundraiser on Sunday, May 5. After a rainy Saturday, Sunday morning dawned to a glorious day for the CAN ASSIST Dubbo Autumn Gardens Open Day. The four gardens were graciously opened to the public by their hardworking owners to provide an enjoyable outing for the hundreds of attendees. Each garden portrayed a different atmosphere and style with a number of special events from musical performances to guest speakers. This year attendees were fortunate to be entertained by the Three Sisters Violin Trio and guest speakers Doctor Florian Honeyball (chief medico at the Dubbo Base Hospital’s Cancer Centre) and Professor Andrew Rawson (CSU School of Vet and Agriculture Science).

The Autumn Gardens Open Day is a massive undertaking with countless hours given by a dedicated team of volunteers. CAN ASSIST member Melva Blake coordinated this year’s successful event, including the popular plant stall which sold out.

 

Robyn Englert, Melva Blake, Ros Lorimer and Janet Couchman

 

CAN ASSIST president David Walker thanks the CAN ASSIST Garden Day team as well all those individual members and non-members who offered their time and efforts in this fundraiser. Over 60 people help in all facets on the day with lots of preparation time beforehand as well. “We owe a debt of gratitude to the owners of the gardens, and also to all the attendees. All the funds raised at this event support CAN ASSIST in providing financial support to those undergoing cancer treatment in our region,” Walker said.

CAN ASSIST has also been strongly supported by local news media and major raffle sponsors including Bunnings, Dubbo Flight Centre plus several anonymous sponsors. With little time to rest, Dubbo CAN ASSIST is already planning their 2025 open day with their search for gardens. If you would like to contribute to CAN ASSIST or have a wonderful garden to share next year, please contact dubbo@canassist.org.au

 

Alan Clarke, Fitz McKay and Fran Ellis

May 16 2024, Dubbo Photo News