Call-out is on to take part

Kate Walsh was diagnosed with breast cancer 16 years ago, she was just 29. Following intensive treatment, Kate said she was 'free and clear' of the disease. That changed 11 years later when she was devastatingly re-diagnosed in 2015, this time her breast cancer has metastasized.

Together with her husband Darren, and two young children, Kate has been navigating COVID-19 and the impact the pandemic has had on their daily lives and her treatment. She continues to receive breast cancer treatment through regular oncology appointments and chemotherapy at Bendigo Health while Darren takes care of the shopping and other errands so that Kate has been able to avoid public places and the increased risk of infection that comes with it.

A Dry July funded Cancer Wellness Program run by Bendigo Health has had to temporarily pause during the current pandemic. The program offers a range of complementary therapies such as oncology massage, yoga classes, pet therapy and mindfulness sessions.

Kate is just one of the participants of the yoga therapy sessions and is already looking forward to its return.

"It is just so good for my mind and managing anxiety," Kate said.

"Every day I wake up knowing that I have cancer. Yoga just helps to be able to manage that."

The program's coordinator, Jenna Sing, a position that is also funded by Dry July, has taken the opportunity to develop further innovative ways to support cancer patients during COVID-19. These include the delivery of locally sourced fresh fruit and vegetables to families like the Walsh family, and online sessions in tai chi, meditation, gentle exercise and yoga.

"After working within the oncology setting for many years, it's a lovely transition to now be able to offer holistic care to cancer patients," Jenna said of her role that has her overseeing the delivery of the Wellness Program. "I really want to encourage members of our local community to sign up with Dry July to raise funds to support our cancer patients," she said.

"And if you need incentive, this year there are a few new options to encourage as many people as possible to get involved. This year it is Dry(ish) July - with the choice of going dry for 31, 21, or 14 days, or nominate your own dry period at www.dryjuly.com/bendigo."

Bendigo Health Cancer Centre Clinical Director, Dr Robert Blum said there were many reasons to sign up to Dry July. "Initiatives like Dry July not only offer great health benefits for those who participate, they also provide vital funds for us to continue offering comprehensive support to our cancer patients. It's a win win," Dr Blum said.

Go to www.dryjuly.com/bendigo to join the fundraising efforts during July.

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