I was diagnosed with gastro-oesophageal cancer in 2019. 

I was sceptical at first about the value of visiting Bloomhill Cancer Care – I thought it would be like an AA group for cancer survivors, and that didn’t interest me. But Bloomhill turned out to be an incredible place. 

It was unique because it provided personalised, one-on-one support for people touched by cancer and was also a place where you got to meet lots of people going through similar experiences.   

I went there after a nurse in hospital insisted get their support, when I was going through chemotherapy. 

I met a remarkable nurse, who explained so many things to me, like how cancer can get in your head, what you can do about that, and about the scars and how to alleviate discomforts and address pain. 

I already knew the value of mental health help after experiencing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder related to witnessing traumatic events at work.

I have been in the Queensland Ambulance Service since 1978, served a total 44 years now, currently as Executive Officer for the Sunshine Coast District.

Following suggestions of my psychologist, I found meditation hugely helpful for living with PTSD.  

When I was diagnosed with cancer, I remember the oncologist advising that it was curative – I knew then that with the application of meditation I could defeat the tumours during chemotherapy and radium therapy. 

I visualised the tumour and named it Hitler. Chemo and radiation were my Allied Forces. I named it Hitler because it was evil, but it could be defeated.

I had more than 30 treatments, and during each one I visualised the tumours getting smaller, and the big one, finally it was just Hitler and in the end he was faded and brittle, as the Allied Forces surrounded him.

I know my positivity and openness to trying new things were critical for the success of cancer treatment, and my ongoing recovery. 

At Bloomhill I also had really effective help with my scar rehabilitation. I have some enormous scars from the surgeries my body’s been through, and they can be painful – even years after surgery.  

I hadn’t been game to let anyone touch my scars but Audrey, Deb and Neila (Bloomhill massage therapists) have each been able to do wonderful relaxing ‘soft touch’ massage and cold laser treatment for me that has been so beneficial. The laser treatment has helped reduce the scars significantly as you can see in my before-and-after photos. 

A Bloomhill dietician also helped me understand which foods I could tolerate and what to avoid-that made a really big difference to my quality of life, and to my family.

The exercise physiologist tailored an exercise plan that really helps with my recovery.

Having help that really works has a multiplier effect for people living with cancer or recovering from cancer. 

Your family can really cop it when you go through something like cancer. It was scary for my wife and two kids, and very demanding. Seeing me in all that pain, and all the uncertainty for them. 

When you get good help, it boosts everyone around you. Takes the weight off. Lets everyone breathe.

I would recommend joining the Bloomhill family if you have cancer, or care or love someone who does. It is a unique place where you’ll be understood, with amazing support services on offer. 

Be there for Bloomhill in June

There has never been a more critical time to support Bloomhill Cancer Care – please if you can, consider donating to the Be There for Bloomhill Appeal which runs throughout June.

Bloomhill is one of the most incredible organisations I’ve ever come across.

I’ve worked in the Queensland Ambulance Service for 44 years, 27 of those as a frontline paramedic, so I’m passionate about helping people. But what Bloomhill did to help me when I was going through cancer and now I’m recovering, I will always be grateful for.

Bloomhill is going through a big change right now – preparing to redevelop its site so it can help more people, and improving its model of care. It’s doing that in the midst of a post-COVID building crisis that creates some really significant challenges.

The op shops which supply about 75% of the charity’s income (in a normal, non-COVID year) have this year had sales dip so low Bloomhill was eating into its savings to keep afloat. High quality item donations to the op shops have slowed too.

So if there was ever a year to support Bloomhill Cancer Care to keep providing its brilliant, tailored support to people like me, it’s this year.

Please show your support by taking one of the below three actions.

  1. Donate to the Be there for Bloomhill Appeal at the website – Bloomhill.com.au
  2. Buy a $100 raffle ticket for a 1 in 1,500 chance of winning a brand new Mercedes Benz. Click here
  3. Join us at Raelene’s Patron’s Gala on July 8, 2022. Tickets are here.

By Noel O’Mara

June 2022