Women’s cancer support group in the Yarra Ranges

Monday, 26 June 2017
Women’s cancer support group in the Yarra Ranges
Women’s cancer support group in the Yarra Ranges

Did you know that in 2017 there have been 17,586 women diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia?
Even less well known is that men get breast cancer as well! In 2017 144 Australian men were diagnosed.

In 2017 breast cancer will become Australia’s most prevalent form of cancer

Already the most prevalent form of cancer in women, it’s estimated that breast cancer accounts for 13% of all new cancer cases diagnosed. In 2013 breast cancer was the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, and it is estimated that it will become the most commonly diagnosed cancer in 2017.

Learn more about the signs and synmptoms of breast cancer.

Talking to others with similar experiences helps

For those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, or are going through treatment and are on the road to recovery the journey can feel lonely, tiring and overwhelming. Talking to others who’ve been on a similar journey can often be comforting and reassuring.

Monica Logan from Inspiro meets with The Opals of the Yarra Ranges

This morning I had an opportunity to meet some amazing ladies from ‘The Opals of the Yarra Ranges’. I was there to give some information to the group about the health care services and activities that Inspiro has that the members may find helpful - like physiotherapy, podiatry, occupational therapy, gentle exercise programs, and women’s health service. But I learnt and got more out of meeting the ladies than what I was there for.

Learn more about Inspiro's support services here.

The Opals are a ladies cancer support group

The Opals is a women’s cancer support group in the Yarra Ranges and associated with Breast Cancer Network Australia. The group support people with any cancer, their friends and family. They meet to share some company and chat to others who have either been through the journey personally or are caring for someone with cancer.

The women are a source of information, strength and inspiration for each other, speaking candidly about their personal experiences with cancer and how that has affected them. Some have family members past and present who have had cancer.

Being diagnosed with cancer is always a shock

Today we talked about the shock and sadness of being diagnosed with cancer, lymphedema (when lymph nodes that drain fluid are removed during cancer treatment, and fluid then then builds up in limbs, causing welling and reducing movement), wigs (the group have a wig library to share with experiencing hair loss from chemotherapy), and fear of a potential diagnosis for their daughters and granddaughters in future.

Sharing stories and support over coffee and cake

Over a coffee, muffins and cake, stories and anecdotes flow along with knowing support and laughter. Elisabeth, the oldest member of the group present this morning, a lady in her 80s, spoke of losing her mum to breast cancer when she was seven. Her mum passed away a year after giving birth to her sister. This was in the early 40s, during World War II, when breast cancer was not well known and there was little treatment and support. Elisabeth, her sister and older brother were then raised by her aunty. Elisabeth herself has recovered from breast cancer.

Do you know anyone who can benefit from The Opals support group?

After meeting The Opals, I thought there must be other women going through similar experiences who could benefit from connecting with the group. So if you’d like to find out more about The Opals, just call one of these lovely ladies:
  • Judith Smiles 5961 9141
  • Sue Blank 9737 0347
  • Susan Wootton 0418 108 305

The group meets every 2nd Wednesday and 4th Friday of the month at Freda’s Café in Clarke Street Lilydale from 10am to 12pm.

Find a cancer support group near you

To find a cancer support group near you call our community health nurse on 97388801 or call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20. This website is a useful tool that enables you to locate canncer support groups in your area:

Inspiro has a wide range of groups and programs for local residents

To find out about Inspiro's wide range of support groups and programs for local residents of all ages click here.

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