Written by Bloomhill Volunteer Sue Custance

Ensuring the café runs according to the standard of the food licence, Diane effortlessly presents as efficient and capable. She also comes across as a very caring person with genuine empathy. While her role includes overseeing the prepping and cooking in the kitchen, it is her quality training with the baristas that we most appreciate in that great cup of coffee.

“The café is manned by volunteers who do a fabulous job,” Diane complimented the team. “Two volunteer cooks come in Monday and Tuesday and they set us up for the week.

“The rest of my role is running the café and looking after the rostering. Having been a volunteer myself I know the importance of having direction and the importance of being appreciated. I like to think I am someone who listens and who can also resolve issues. That’s across the board here. Each and every person is precious. Our café couldn’t survive without them.”

Diane’s background is in IT. However having gone through her own cancer journey 17 years ago, the cause is never far from front of mind.

“During my experience I gave up work but of course found I needed to do something. I was offered an opportunity to run a café at the local Bridge Club in Victoria. I was sent for barista training and did that part-time for two years until I was strong enough to think about what I would do moving forward.

“In relocating to Queensland I found myself volunteering here at Bloomhill Cancer Care. They noticed my background and as it happens, were just at the stage of looking to start a café.

“With a great support network we opened in November 2015. We try and use local product where possible such as Maleny milk and coffee from Pioneer at Yandina.

“Starting a café has been a learning experience for me also. I consider myself fortunate in being presented with the opportunity to go to TAFE and study food handling.

Apart from good food and refreshments, a lovely ambience is paramount for Bloomhill’s endearing cafe. Diane is mindful of presenting a place where it is a pleasure to be.

“We want it to be as comfortable as we can. Where people feel at ease, and we also have our doors open to the local community. Everyone is welcome. It’s only when we have larger groups in, that we need a heads up.

“When I came here four years ago I was moving closer to family and also bringing my mum up here. I needed something to help take my mind off putting my mother in care so I gave Bloomhill a call. When I walked in, I immediately thought, ‘where was this when I went through my journey?’ In an environment such as Sydney and Melbourne, everything you do during recovery is very clinical.

“It’s a complete mind-switch to be supported like this while on your journey. While we can’t diminish the oncologist and surgeons, Bloomhill offers a pleasant atmosphere without the sterile environment.”

Diane relates how it’s been proven that an environment such as Bloomhill offers; aids recovery.

“This tranquil setting helps take away for a time, what our clients experience on a day to day basis. The natural surrounds help diminish some of the anxiety that’s experienced day in day out while going through treatment.”

It’s telling, that when people come to the centre for a yoga or exercise classes, they don’t leave straight away. Instead, they come to the café. They’ll talk about everything but cancer, and bring some normality into life.

Diana remarked “If you can wake up every day and think, I’m lucky to be going to work, that’s a great thing and I’m not the only person here who has the pleasure of thinking that.”

PHOTO: Diane (centre) with Cafe volunteers Jenny and Colin