What a year 2020 has been. In March the outbreak of COVID-19 turned our world upside down and threw many unique challenges to people diagnosed with breast cancer as well as their family members.
Those newly diagnosed were confronted with a health system doing its best to adjust to an impending crisis. It made navigating breast cancer treatment an even bigger challenge; appointments were restricted to 15 minutes and clients were unable to take a family member or friend to appointments for support. Our nurses and counsellors were kept busy simply collaborating with colleagues in the treatment centres to support clients to navigate and cope through this period.
Inspired by the resilience and adaptability of our clients, our team responded quickly when forced to work online. They pieced together equipment, set up their home offices and pivoted to deliver support via video or telehealth. It was a steep learning curve, yet they rapidly became proficient at facilitating online meetings and video calls, and our clients embraced technology in a way that we couldn’t have imagined a year ago. Our online support groups enabled those who live in the bush to connect with others in WA. An online group for young women with metastatic breast cancer and an evening group for young women with early breast cancer both proved popular and have continued to meet online.
We returned to face to face services in July, which was really welcomed by the remainder of our support groups, many who were keen to simply ‘be together’ again. In early November couples came together for a day to explore the impact of breast cancer on their relationship. We also introduced a new three-hour workshop that introduced great strategies for managing the stress associated with breast cancer.
In 2020 we also farewelled two specialist breast care nurses who had been with our team for many years. Moira Waters who joined our team in 2013 took up a new role at Peel Health Campus and Di Grennan who joined us in 2014 accepted a new role with Genesis Cancer Care. We welcomed Emily Wilson to the team in September and plan a further nursing appointment in March.
We had the privilege of supporting 851 clients this year, with specialist breast care nursing, counselling, financial and practical support. We held 102 support groups and 12 workshops, including new workshops in stress management and for couples.
What is so special about Breast Cancer Care WA is the ongoing way our community of clients engage with our service. Although they may only need support for a brief period they remain close and engaged through our social media and our fundraising events. Some become ambassadors and many volunteer in a multitude of ways that enrich our community.
Thankyou to our wonderful sponsors, donors and fundraisers who make it possible to provide personalised and meaningful support to the brave people in our community living with breast cancer.