Blooming Good Cause

October 1, 2018

Blooming Good Cause

Twenty-one years ago, palliative care nurse Margaret Gargan founded Bloomhill Cancer Care after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Having been on the receiving end of resounding support from her local community during her treatment, she wanted to give back and we’re so glad she did.

For Jeanne Moloney-Nicholls, going through breast cancer treatment was invasive, painful and at times scary, but having respite at Bloomhill Cancer Care allowed her to soldier on, knowing her mind, body and soul were being taken care of.

Jeanne, a mother-of-three, was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in September last year after noticing a lump “the size of a cheerio” in her chest. 

“I thought I’d pulled a muscle because it was in my upper chest and it hurt me, and you’re always told that breast cancer doesn’t hurt, which is a fallacy,” she says.

Jeanne disregarded the lump for several months and it wasn’t until she got the flu and felt excessively tired, a feeling she couldn’t shake for weeks, that she finally went to see a doctor. Suffice to say she was surprised when the GP immediately booked her in for an ultrasound and appointment with a breast cancer specialist.

Jeanne started chemotherapy in November and had 16 sessions over six months which shrunk her 4.5cm tumour down to 1.5cm. She then had a double mastectomy in May and had 11 lymph nodes removed (three of which contained cancer cells), she then started radiation sessions in June, finishing her 25th and final treatment in August.

In December, Jeanne was introduced to Bloomhill Cancer Care in Buderim and the incredible services they provide, “A lot of people think it’s a place people go to die, but I like to say it’s a place people go to live, to bond with others going through similar journeys. The camaraderie and the fun makes it a truly special place”.

Bloomhill is an integrated cancer care service where patients are case managed by a specialist oncology nurse to ensure they receive the best possible care. At Bloomhill, patients can access a wide range of services including allied health (psychology, counselling, exercise physiology, occupational therapy and dietetics) and complementary therapies such as oncology massage, reflexology and acupuncture.

“The perspective is to provide a holistic approach to people’s wellbeing, looking after their physical bodies but also their emotional, spiritual and occupational needs,” says Bloomhill clinical services manager Trish Wilson.

In the last financial year, Bloomhill cared for 1651 clients, including cancer patients and carers.

“We know that people with cancer do well if their carers feel supported as well, so they’re able to access limited services, including counselling, psychology and meditation,” she says.

“We also have about 80 bereaved clients.”

Jeanne says she knew chemotherapy would cause hair loss, but it was the other side effects she experienced which came completely unawares, including her nails lifting at the tips, some numbness of her fingertips and toes and occasional aching and minor swelling in her arm.

But she says having access to the specialists at Bloomhill have allowed her to visit reflexologists, acupuncturists and lymphoedema therapists who are specially trained to treat cancer patients without upsetting or interfering with their medical treatments.

Jeanne says the other services on offer, including art therapy, pilates, yoga and meditation, also helped ease the pain of cancer treatment.

Given that Bloomhill is not-for-profit, 80 per cent of their revenue comes in through their 10 op shops across the Sunshine Coast and the remaining 20 per cent is raised at various events throughout the year, including the Bras n Bikes charity ride on 28 October and Next Property Group auction on 12 October, where a new Mercedes Benz will be raffled. 

Trish says the support they receive from the community is vital in seeing all of the services continue and last month they had to make the difficult decision to cease their art therapy class.

“Because we have had such an increase in our clients in the last year and a high demand for services without the income matching our ongoing needs, we have had to really look at continuing some services and reducing some,” she says. 

If you or your business can help raise much-needed funds for Bloomhill, visit bloomhill.com.au

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