Below is a list of our supporters at Health Equals Freedom - Making Sense of Cancer who have provided services, support and advice to us.
We want to acknowledge their assistance in creating this novel Telehealth service, as well as providing the resources and supportive products to assist those newly diagnosed with cancer and their families, no matter their background or location.
Call to Mind provide TeleHealth Psychiatry and Psychology Services
End Stage Matters - Empowerment, education and support for better dying and better living.
Development of this business was made possible due to part funding from a NEIS grant from the Department of Education and Training.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer by BreastScreen in Nov 2019, I was feeling confused and scared about what was going to happen, and I was able to request Dr Rachel attend my appointment by telephone, which was really easy at short notice.
It was reassuring to have her in the meeting where the surgeon explained my diagnosis, treatment options and next steps. She guided me on questions to ask before I met him, she took notes and asked questions during the meeting that helped me understand, as I had so much going on in my mind at the time. By the time I got home (2 hours’ drive from the city of the meeting to my country home), a report of what was said at the meeting as well as words simplifying what the doctor had said to me were waiting for me. This helped me confident of what was discussed in the meeting with the surgeon and this allowed me to re-read when I was feeling calmer. This service is a must for especially for someone like me who is retired and lives in rural Australia, I had to drive a long way to see my specialist surgeon. Having someone listen and support during this stressful time was invaluable.
Jill, Country NSW
English is not my first language. Dr Rachel attended my appointment with my oncologist, which she assisted me to find. Before the appointment she explained the results I had from my GP. She also listened to the oncologist with me and she simplified some big words and asked him extra questions. She also drew me pictures after the meeting. I could have three different problems that were confusing. She made me feel secure and not worried about anything, it made me feel relieved and supported.
Sophia, Melbourne (English is a second language)
(Name changed for privacy reasons)
I am five years post breast cancer diagnosis and when I went for my annual check-up earlier this year, I decided to engage Dr Rachel from Health Equals Freedom just in case. As a cancer survivor, I am always waiting for the axe to fall at these appointments even though the chances of recurrence fall as each year passes. What I hoped would be a routine check-up though ended up being quite stressful as the mammogram had revealed a potential new growth and the doctor wanted me to have a core biopsy to check whether the growth was cancerous. I did not want to share the news with my family at that stage so Dr Rachel was the source of sanity who kept me from descending into a state of panic while I thought to myself ‘not again!’. Her calm, knowledgeable approach is so reassuring and she was fantastic source of strength during that traumatic period. She asked the doctor the important questions I couldn’t ever think about while my mind (and stomach!) churned. Fortunately the growth was not cancerous but thank goodness for Health Equals Freedom and their support during a difficult time.
Naveena Nekkalapudi, Balwyn, Victoria
This missive is addressed to anyone who has either been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or knows a close loved one who has. The word cancer strikes a mortal blow to those hearing it, especially when their name is included in the same sentence! These are words which are normally mentioned by top-trained medical professionals whose careers are built on not only the word but an enormous industry named after it!
When this happens to us personally, it is not uncommon to not hear very many more of the words in the conversation, nor for the rest of that day’s conversations! You are in total shock!
It’s a bit like having a serious car accident but while you may not be able to see the physical damage, the emotional and mental ones are no less confronting. Your life seems to flash past your mind as though in fast-forward movie and you become acutely aware of the possible loss of everything that is near and dear to you.
Why? Well, while we often hear about the people who survive the battle, we also hear that the odds are not overly optimistic and our mind races and darts across all sorts of emotionally-charged thoughts and reactions.
And in the middle of this you hear the words: ”We can schedule you for a surgical procedure tomorrow/next week!” which is usually followed by other treatments or chemical warfare against your body which can have serious side-effects! I know this because I have been in this place and I am sure you will be feeling if not all of the above, at least some of them!
And what do you do? Everyone medical and even our loved ones want us to make an enormous and urgently immediate life-changing decision from ‘their end’. Either they want your ‘business’ or they want you to make a decision in order not just that you might survive, but also for own needs, after all when the life of someone close to us is threatened most people become anxious and fearful of their own vulnerability.
And there are the darker thoughts that we may not be around for as long as we hoped and we realise that we have been taking life for granted and that we have suddenly been pushed towards the top of the queue! In any case being made acutely aware of the immediate risk, we feel pressured and out of our own control to just ‘go along’ and surrender our will to those who ‘must know better’!
So in the end, it is not uncommon to feel alone or lonely even though surrounded by friends and family as we ‘fight the good fight!’ And what then is the response if we don’t win the fight? Am I any less than someone else who may have survived their scare, their surgery or their ongoing health challenges? Will I have just simply lost the fight because I was not ‘good enough?’
All these thoughts really have no place in being entertained – they don’t help your health and they don’t help your mental attitude - so when this happens to you or someone close, there is generally no great health threat in taking a breather from feeling pressured. Your medical specialist will still be there tomorrow or next month. Taking a moment to be mindful and grateful for all the good things in our lives and celebrating them is a good way to help us manage the negative thoughts.
No-one lives forever and no-one escapes alive! Enjoy what you can of what you have left. TAKE A BREATH!
You have the right to tell your medicos and loved ones that you need a little time and space before making possibly the biggest decision of your life. You can choose not to feel pressured by your family and friends who, whilst well-meaning can often either become upset with you or upset you by passing on their ‘thoughts and wisdom’.
Remember, there are NO RIGHT ANSWERS or RIGHT SOLUTIONS for every person who finds themselves facing a serious health challenge! And the greatest difficulty can come from partners, family or friends.
Be aware that you have the right to make your own decisions in your own time and in your own space. If you feel pressured by anyone at all, try this short conversation with them: “XXXX(Name), I just need a little time and space to either seek further treatment solutions or to acquaint myself with as much knowledge before I make my final choice. In the meantime you can show me your love and support by abiding my request not to pressure me or even discuss the matter unless I ask you. Is that OK?”
Many people feel they are ‘on their own’ and not having any real support or assistance in being able to meaningfully discuss their options and treatments with someone without an ‘axe to grind’ in pushing a particular treatment or direction at you.
In times like these it is valuable to know that there is a dedicated and specialised support service out there with whom you can discuss these matters by phone appointment from the comfort of your own home.
Women are seemingly much better than men at verbalising their worries and concerns. This is healthy as if nothing else, a problem shared is a problem solved! However men don’t share this same level of open-ness to each other as the fairer sex do. There is almost un-written rule that “Men are tough and don’t need help and support” or “I’ll tough it out on my own!” Such stupidity and needless suffering!
I have seen many ‘manly men’ brought to tears by many of life’s situations: the birth of a child, their sports team winning a grand final after a long and tedious effort, the soldier who felt he let his mates down because they were killed in war action and hew wasn’t, the list goes on and on and it is time men got on with accepting that ‘hanging tough’ really has no pay-off of any real human life value!
So come on guys, talking to someone who is at ‘arms-length’ emotionally and who can assist with treatment choice suggestions and/or queries can be a great release, relief and value!
Garry Joiner – Ringwood, Melbourne
If you think this service is of value to others, and you would like to donate to a particular person, please contact us to discuss how to direct your gift.