“I was sitting in the waiting room, looking around at the other women and thinking ‘some poor lady here is going to be told they’ve got breast cancer today.’ I wasn’t worried that it would be me,” Kim Andrews
Like Kim, if you’re in good health then you might not give much thought to serious illness affecting you…until it does.
In April last year, Kim was living her life to the fullest. She’d just turned 50, spent three weeks cruising through Europe with her husband Darren, and capped it off by celebrating their son’s engagement in London.
Coming home to Brisbane, Kim received one final Birthday present in the mail; a government-issued mammogram screening letter. It was in the waiting room that Kim felt saddened for the ladies around her.
In 2018, breast cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. Odds suggested at least one of them would be getting some terrible, life-changing news that day. Kim just didn’t think it would be her.
“After seven hours of tests I was told to come back the next day for further biopsies and the results and that I should bring my family with me. I went out to my car and I broke down in tears.”
With a sense of foreboding, Kim, Darren, and their kids returned to the hospital the following day. A week on from the celebrations in London, the family were in a doctor’s room being told Kim had advanced localised breast cancer which had metastasised to the lymph nodes.
A week after diagnosis, Kim was in for surgery. That morning, a scan had picked up more cancer in her lymph nodes. Since then it’s been regular treatments, doctors’ visits and a roller coaster of ill health and dealing with symptoms and side-effects.
The impact on Kim’s family in the aftermath of the diagnosis would have been occurring in other households across the country that very day.
An estimated 138,321 new cancer cases were diagnosed in Australia last year. It means that today around 379 people will be told they’ve got cancer.
What can we do to alleviate the burden on families like Kim’s?
To address this urgent need, in 2017 we launched and provided ongoing funding for the Greenslopes Private Hospital (GPH) Wellness Program. Complementing the outstanding medical treatment offered at the hospital, the GPH Wellness Program provides a suite of information, sessions and resources to support cancer patients, their families, and their carers.
The program covers a range of issues affecting cancer patients; things that Kim says would have been incredibly overwhelming to try and wade through alone. These include areas such as:
- Talking to your kids about cancer
- Yoga, mindfulness and stress management
- Finances, work, and accessing your superannuation during treatment
- Exercise and Nutrition
Kim got involved in the Program shortly after she began treatment at GPH’s Cyril Gilbert Cancer Centre. Immediately she felt at home; part of a community which strengthened her on one of the toughest battles of her life.
“I didn’t realise the program existed at first. I wasn’t expecting for there to be a program like this. I know other women battling breast cancer who don’t have access to this kind of support. I am so glad this program exists – It’s made life 150% better,” Kim says.
We need your help!
The GPH Wellness Program is becoming a victim of its own success. Over the past 3 months, the number of participants has almost doubled. Around 300 cancer patients at the hospital are now accessing the program and benefiting from the range of sessions and initiatives. We need your help to expand the GPH Cancer Wellness Program so we can support patients and families going through the incredibly tough battle of cancer treatment.