Date of publication – 8 December 2022
- Cancer Wellness Support held their AGM on 30 November and appointed a new Executive team to continue its legacy with a 3-year strategic vision
- Founding members, Bob Yates and Kevin Stapleton were acknowledged for their tireless dedication as they stepped down from the Board
- New CEO appointed to lead team, build on collaborative relationships and grow awareness of Cancer Wellness Support's purpose of being a leading cancer wellness service provider in the local community
Cancer Wellness Support will start the new year, with a new CEO and Board of Directors to build on its strong foundations and continues to provide over 5,000 per annum of subsidised complementary therapies to those who are touched by cancer within the Blue Mountains and Penrith communities.
This community led service is enabled through the generosity of all who donate or frequent the two local Op Shops, attend fundraising events, sponsor, or volunteer time and skills to a common purpose and was recognised at the recent Western Sydney Awards for Business Excellence (WSABE) Social Enterprise Award for 2022, which was held last month.
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on Wednesday, 30 November 2022 at the Robyn Yates Centre, Leura appointed five new Directors to join the remaining office holders on the CWS Board.
Dr Ilse Blignault, Chair, believes “ With a new skills-based Board, a new CEO, our wonderful therapists, staff and volunteers, and the support of the community, we are looking forward to 2023. As our Founder, Robyn Yates, was fond of saying, with the community we can achieve anything.”
Bob Yates and Kevin Stapleton, founding members of Cancer Wellness Support stepped down as part of the process, and were acknowledged for all they had contributed and achieved in setting up the organisation. As key institutional knowledge holders, it is intended they will contribute to sub-committees that will be established in 2023 to support realisation of the strategic vision.
Deborah Shepherd who has taken on the new CEO role was drawn to Cancer Wellness Support’s overall purpose, values and the ability to provide accessible complementary health to the local community.
“It was the opportunity to be part of something tangible that demonstrated the strength of community and supported those at critical times of need that really spoke to me, and inspired me to be part of the Cancer Wellness Support team” Shepherd said.
In Australia, it is estimated that up to two-thirds of cancer patients utilise “at least one form of complementary therapy during or after their cancer treatment.”
In a recent study, several participants believed complementary therapies helped them survive a “terminal” diagnosis, while others described the way it assisted them to manage secondary cancer-related health problems or existing problems that were exacerbated by the cancer. The main barrier identified to access this support by 82% of survey respondents was financial constraints, where nearly half said it was their only obstacle.
Since 2005, Cancer Wellness Support has been part of the Blue Mountains and Penrith Valley community, offering subsidised complementary therapies to enable accessibility to all, while playing a role alongside the medical profession and specialist services, to enable a whole person approach.
In 2014 various health agencies, Western Sydney University and Robyn Yates came together to research the place of Cancer Wellness Support (then Blue Mountains Cancer Help) in the local cancer community.
An enduring legacy of that research progress has been Cancer Wellness Support's continued partnership with Western Sydney University's Medical School in the unit, ‘Medicine in Context’. This unit expands their medical students’ knowledge and experience of health delivery in the community sector.
Students enjoy a chance to experience health delivery outside of institutions, outside of the mainstream delivery forums and parachutes them into community to experience face-to-face delivery of health care.
Each year we have the opportunity to host students from WSU on placements lasting up to three weeks. In August 2022 we were privileged to welcome third-year student Michael Guo.
Michael spent time in almost every department of Cancer Wellness Support – from working alongside our therapists to helping out behind the Op Shop counter – and had an opportunity to meet many of our clients as well as experiencing therapies including acupuncture, yoga and Bowen therapy. He found it a valuable contrast with his daily hands-on study at Blacktown Hospital.
"The most important thing for me has been to see the experience from the point of view of a cancer patient. A lot of clients haven't been happy with their first doctor. They've had to look around for someone who listens to them."
His biggest takeaway has been to understand the limitations of mainstream medicine and how complementary therapies can support treatment and recovery.
"I think having been here is definitely going to change my mindset. I've learned that you have to pay more attention to what's going on in the patient's life and how that could impact their condition, and how you need to treat them."
This relationship with mainstream medicine is invaluable, raising awareness of how valuable complementary therapies can be among the emerging generation of medical practitioners.
Lauren Palmer, Online Op Shop Manager and Katoomba Op Shop Assistant Manager
receives the 2022 Rotary Pride of Workmanship Award