Working alongside conventional cancer treatments, Cancer Support WA uses a wellness approach to help those with a diagnosis reach optimal health and find support from others in the same position.
With medical breakthroughs and advancement in drugs seeing more people survive their cancer experience, those with a diagnosis are in a better position than ever before. Alongside a solid medical plan, research is mounting to show complementary therapies such as meditation, yoga, healthy eating, massage and counseling are also hugely beneficial for the physical and mental health of cancer patients.
Being read a list of treatment options and statistics on survival rates can sometimes present as doom and gloom, so having the option to complement the medical journey with a wellness one allows cancer patients to choose a more active role in their journey and more importantly, it opens up the opportunity to meet others going through a similar experience. According to Cancer Support WA’s Director of Client Services Chandrika Gibson, one of the most difficult aspects of being sick is the feeling of isolation.
“The community that is fostered by our program means that people don’t feel so alone,” Chandrika says. “People often feel they can’t tell their friends what it’s like to go through cancer because they just can’t understand or it might bring up other people’s grief and loss and fear. So in this community, they feel like there are people that really get it and they have plenty of space where it is totally acceptable to talk about what they’re going through, both the horrible, messy stuff and the beautiful, transformative, uplifting stuff.”
Plenty of those who have received a diagnosis do have support people rallying around them and Cancer Support WA opens its arms equally to them.
“We know there is a ripple effect when someone has a diagnosis so we help people affected by cancer and that includes people who have had a diagnosis, their partners, support people, extended family and even the wider community,” Chandrika explains. “Often the partners or family are suffering as much, if not more, than the person with the diagnosis. Our counseling, support groups, wellness activities and courses are available to them as well so they can fill their own cups so they have more to give the people that they’re supporting.”
As scientific evidence grows to support the Cancer Support WA programs, the charity has come together with hospital-based group SolarisCare Foundation who believe in ‘bringing humanity to healthcare’ to further provide cancer patients and loved ones the best of both conventional and complementary therapies.
“This is the crest of the wave of true integration,” Chandrika says. As patients support each other, carers learn how to look after themselves and their loved ones, and two organisations combine to help more – the ‘power of &’ makes the journey of cancer so much lighter and easier to bear.