By Trish Wilson

It’s been an extraordinary few months of change, and I want to thank every Bloomhill nurse, therapist and allied health practitioner as well as clients for your resilience in these challenging times. You have all done Bloomhill proud!

In March when we decided it was important for safety to close face-to-face services, we transitioned all consultations across to tele-health. We provided 1427 nursing and psychology appointments this way from April to July! Even though we’re now back to providing face-to-face sessions, some of our clients have opted to continue with tele-health appointments – for example when they’re too unwell to come to the  centre.  Clients have also told us that Telehealth appointments during the COVID lockdown provided social contact they were dearly missing as they self-isolated at home.

Our group activities, including yoga, QiGong, meditation and art therapy, were offered using the computer-based program Zoom, where a live video shows participants and the group leader. These were also popular. These groups have also all resumed in face-to-face format at the wellness centre, but we’re continuing to offer the Zoom option. Several clients have said they enjoy the flexibility this allows.

I want to thank our Advancement Team and volunteers, especially the outgoing Director of Advancement Sarah Wetton, who have done some fabulous fundraising in recent month. The October Breast Cancer Awareness Appeal tally is still being counted but is expected to be more than $30,000. I’m so excited about the help this will enable our nurses and allied health staff to provide to clients.  Breast cancer is such a challenge for women – and men - in our society, and for more than 360 clients here at Bloomhill. We are so grateful for the work all our volunteers and fundraising staff are doing to help us continue to help people across the Sunshine Coast to live well with cancer.

We have reopened our on-site gym, and our exercise physiologist Ryan is holding three mini-gym sessions every morning from Monday through to Thursday at 8am, 9am and 10am. We can fit three clients in the gym with Ryan, and a bunch of clients are really booking into those and getting fit and healthy using those classes.

A recent position statement from the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia recommends  that every person who has a diagnosis of cancer should have a referral to a specialist in exercise. Research findings indicate that exercise helps patients who are going through treatment; it seems to make it more effective. We’re not sure exactly of the biological mechanisms of that but there is certainly evidence that treatments have improved, and there is evidence that it helps with post-treatment fatigue and reduces cancer recurrence.

We were delighted to start out new Mindfulness Based Cancer Recovery Program at the end of October. Nearly 30 participants are coming on a weekly basis to learn about mindfulness and meditation, and they are encouraged to maintain a daily practice for eight weeks, with a half-day retreat on 21 November being included as well.

We have shared the joy of helping hundreds of people as they undergo treatment for cancer and come through the other side this year. It deeply saddens me to say we have also lost a number of clients this year. We will hold our Annual Service of Remembrance for those beautiful souls who have now moved on, and invite family and loved ones to join us at the  centre on Thursday, 10 December at 5.30pm.