Dear Selfless Donor,

I was into my second year of treatment before I connected with Bloomhill.

Billy, my red kelpie, and I were greeted with warm smiles and hugs and my apprehension in seeking support dissolved immediately. I sensed something deep and special … an acceptance and understanding from staff, volunteers and other clients. I am tearing up now as I re-experience the specialness. Bloomhill Cancer Care has been a healing presence in my life since that day over three years ago.

Bloomhill showed me there was more to my cancer journey than IV drips, the nauseating side-effects of treatment and the intense feeling of vulnerability because of my compromised immune system. Here were people with experience and open hearts who understood what would enhance my recovery. I sensed I could emerge from a self-imposed cocoon of safety.

Bloomhill quickly became my sanctuary, somewhere I was comfortable to be me … the ‘new me’. A place where I could relax from the day-to-day, month-to-month round of hospital visits and medical procedures. A place where my mind could heal.

I was diagnosed in November 2014 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma stage 3. My prognosis; deceased in 6 to 12 months without treatment. I started 6 months of chemotherapy with an 85% chance of complete remission. Unfortunately I relapsed after 8 months. I did a further 3 months of chemo to prepare myself for a autologous stem cell transplant (SCT) which would require me to be admitted to hospital for 1 month. It was 2016.

This admission initially entailed 7 days, 24/7 IV chemo (in complete isolation) to eliminate my immune system (the origin of my cancer cells) leaving me vulnerable to any infection. My previously stored and irradiated stem cells were then reintroduced into my system where my bone marrow could begin building my blood counts to somewhere near normal. My extreme vulnerability to infection was the major issue while my system rehabilitated itself.

I stayed in a unit across the road from the hospital gratefully supplied by angels from the Leukaemia Foundation so my recovery could be monitored by the treatment team. This is where my bodily hair decided it had had enough. I watched it fall to the shower floor. I was wafer thin though committed to this new challenge. ‘Oh well,’ I would say to myself in front of the mirror, ‘I’m alive’. A dedicated team got me to this point and I wasn’t going to let them down.

I needed help and this is what I sought from Bloomhill.

I was healthy and enjoying life once more until May last year, 2019, when I felt pain behind my belly button. That was caused by a deeply imbedded tennis ball sized lump …. follicular Lymphoma, incurable but slow growing … strangely that was a paradoxical relief. Six months of another chemo brew ensued ending on Xmas Eve … Happy Christmas. I responded to treatment well.

Maintenance treatment was to be 12 sessions of radiation however by this time it was mid-March and Covid 19 had reared its ugly head. After 6 sessions of radiation therapy I called it quits. I felt too vulnerable. Three days later I was in emergency at Sunshine Coast Uni Hospital with sepsis.

A visiting social worker asked me on the second day whether I had a will!!!

Anyway … on the 5th day I decided to do laps around my room to enhance my recovery. My medical team took the hint and two days later I was on my way home. Phew! I decided then to ‘hospital distance’ and take my chances.

I enthusiastically joined the Bloomhill Survivor Group online. I had earned my membership!

So here I am in lockdown frequently talking with my Bloomhill nurses, zooming meditation sessions and fortnightly psychology appointments. I reckon at 71 and single I have earned the ‘Survivor’ label. I haven’t felt this good for years.

Bloomhill has been with me, sometimes as my only means of support, since my SCT.

How has Bloomhill supported me and many others…

  • Supportive care in a true sense
  • Connection with others on what can be a lonely journey
  • A dedicated registered nurse with cancer patient experience who regularly monitors my wellbeing
  • Weekly exercise classes professionally monitored
  • Weekly mindfulness meditation
  • Weekend workshops appropriate to my needs
  • A beautifully peaceful sanctuary/gardens to ‘hang out’ with Billy
  • A café where I can sit and commune in peaceful surroundings
  • Wonderful volunteers - some of whom have lived experience of cancer
  • Pre Covid-19 hugs.
  • Zoom meetings which are so important in my self-imposed lockdown due to my high risk
  • A sense of my worth as a human being

And above all, a safe, non-judgmental place where I am lovingly nurtured and so importantly, able to connect with others.

I don’t how I would have coped without the Bloomhill Family at my side. I am looking forward to the cautious reopening because I know these people will make sure they provide a safe place for me to visit and reconnect with my community. This is so important.

So, a massive heartfelt ‘thank you’ to donors.

YOU are helping to maintain Bloomhill clients through difficult times.

YOUR generous spirit helped me to survive and provided me with a quality of life - in difficult and sometimes dark times.

YOU gave me an opportunity to ‘… always look on the bright side of life’.*

Thank you. Ric Colclough – Cancer Survivor.

*Monty Python

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Photo: Ric and Billy. Photo credit: Joe Surace