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Supporting people on their cancer journeys

The Wairarapa Cancer Society base at Margaret Chittick House, 37 Te Ore Ore Rd. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Cancer is the leading cause of death in New Zealand, and the number of people affected is predicted to increase by 50 per cent in the next 15 years.

That’s according to the New Zealand Cancer Society medical director Dr Chris Jackson.

On Tuesday, the Cancer Society announced funding of nearly $2 million to kick-start a new direction for cancer research in New Zealand, focused on cancer prevention and support.

Funding cancer research is one of the ways the Cancer Society makes use of donations – and the annual fundraising appeal, Daffodil Day, is coming up fast, scheduled for August 30.

The Wairarapa Cancer Society has been driving awareness of the appeal this month, giving insight into the services they offer to people whose lives have been impacted by cancer.

Wairarapa Cancer Society centre manager and supportive care nurse, Jacinta Buchanan.

Centre manager and supportive care nurse Jacinta Buchanan, said the most important thing was letting people know they were never alone on their journey.

Cancer Connect by phone and Cancer Chat online are free confidential telephone and online support programmes run by the Cancer Society, she said.

They are especially helpful in rural communities such as Wairarapa where distance can be a factor in trying to seek support or someone to talk to about cancer.

“The programme links people affected by cancer to a specially trained volunteer who has been through a similar cancer experience,” she said.

“Volunteers offer emotional and practical support at the time of diagnosis, during treatment and after treatment to a patient or to a carer.

“Even if you have family around, sometimes it can help to talk to a trained volunteer who has lived the experience.”

The Wairarapa Cancer Society is also able to provide an onsite registered nurse to assist with any cancer enquiries, or you can phone a cancer nurse on 0800 226 237.

The society’s base – The Margaret Chittick House opposite Wairarapa Hospital offers support services that complement the medical team’s treatment programme, she said.

“We have an experienced cancer massage therapist and hakomi mindfulness therapist, and our inhouse counsellors all provide much needed intervention and offer skills that patients and families can utilise to cope along the journey.

“Many of the therapists who support our cancer community have been doing this for many years and are totally committed.

“We also provide Lymphoedema therapy educational and support.”

Buchanan said most support groups were driven by the patient’s needs at the time, and an oncology social worker facilitates these groups with medical input as necessary.

“Clive, a patient who has participated in the men’s cancer support group for the past 10 years, has had cancer twice.

“He has found the experience invaluable just to be able to share how he feels with others on a similar journey.

“Never underestimate the power of talking to someone who understands.”

This month, the Wairarapa Cancer Society is wanting to “paint the towns yellow”, to bring cancer awareness to the forefront of people’s minds.

Each week in August, the Wairarapa Midweek will run stories from the Wairarapa Cancer Society to support this campaign.

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