President's Report 2019

I start this report with an upstanding vote of thanks to all committee members and to all the volunteers who have assisted us with our works and conveying our ethos of service to others over the last 12 months.

I would also like to acknowledge family members who have allowed all the workers for Blush to give of their precious time to support our cause.

Personally, I was very touched and also saddened to hear from the three patients who spoke at our High Tea this year. I do not think that until we are put into the hot seat of an acute diagnosis can we understand the impact that this can have not only on the affected patient but also on their family. While this impact varies for every patient it was reassuring to hear that Blush is managing to assist every unique patient and that we are covering a large spectrum of areas of need according to age, the stage of their disease and their premorbid status both physically and mentally.

These women summed up what we do when they affirmed that if you have to get Breast Cancer you are best positioned in Toowoomba as the support extended by Blush is quite possibly second to none and this may be even when looking at the world standards for breast cancer support.

Once again, this year we have had external groups planning events and raising funds for Blush. The efforts of such people as Charmaine Batten and her group in Murphy’s Creek The Agricultural Society Auxillary with their Pink Ladies luncheon, Lucia Targato hosting a large afternoon tea at her residence, Darren Ingram Fitness training for donating from their 10 year anniversary celebrations, Ortem for a special slice w donations to Blush, Alex from the Shed, St Albans Church with their annual Teapot Extravaganza made Blush one of the three recipients from the fund raising, Wendy Bassingthwaite for her luncheon at Gatton and follow up bake stalls accompanied by Sue Kirkegaard and her handmade bags, Emma Morrison supporting her friend Leanne Butler by a function at Fitzy’s Toowoomba, Kellie Oates and her friend Vanessa with their business Gundu Binbi for allocating part of their profits for October to Blush, Peter MacDonald for our Blush car and an evening at the speedway, Toowoomba City Golf Club both Men and Women’s groups, Emma Morrison supporting her friend, Leanne Butler, with a function at the Irish Club. To my workplace, Platinum, St Vincent’s and St Andrews for ‘going pink’ in October and allowing merchandise sales and bake sales to be held on site. Two Rotary Clubs in Toowoomba, Toowoomba & Garden City Clubs, for Ride the Range and Spring into Jazz which raised funds for Blush. We thank all these groups and the many people involved in all these events. Under our umbrella but lead by a very enthusiastic group the Calories for Cancer event was an amazing initiative and we hope this will continue as an annual event.

A special mention must be extended to Patricia Barr who at so many of these events was willing to take, set up and sell merchandise and still be able to balance the stock and money received.

We continue to enjoy the close relationship of the two private Hospitals in Toowoomba, St Vincents and St Andrews Hospital for their willingness to support Blush and to allow the contact the Blush Care Nurses engage in with their patients.

Our major fundraiser the High Tea was again superbly organized and it was wonderful to have a sold out event. Thankyou to Sue Kirkegard for coordinating the many facets to host this day. We were fortunate to receive sponsorship from Jamie & Emma Pattinson from Carpet One, ongoing support from Lannah Dunn, Emily Barnes for the stage set up and donation of two chairs for auction, Anita Sedlak from Impressions for her generous donation, Magnolia Interiors and Pohlmanns for en mass donations of candles and flowers to set the scene and so many other businesses who donated to assist make the day such a wonderful success.

In 2019 we have been able to contact near to 200 new patients and continued where needed to support many diagnosed in prior years. This has been an enormous workload for the breast care nurses and Blush is only able to create this interface with their continued patient centred care. Thankyou to Gaye, Bronwyn, Mary and Nicole. Blush is well aware you go above and beyond in your care for your patients. The Forum with a single focus only for our breast cancer ladies was probably an improved reformatting for this event. The time after diagnosis is when this forum can have a maximum impact to try to assist the patients to attain their optimal overall health. Several patients have also said to me it is great to revisit this in the following year when they are a little more ‘settled’ with their diagnosis and sometimes more able to make lifestyle changes. Fitlab continues to be a well-received and groundbreaking initiative, while much research points to the benefits of exercise there are very few groups that are introduced to this for free and supported by professionals whilst forming a social and strengthening bond with other similar patients. From the Calories for Cancer initiative we will introduce two new groups in 2020 with an after hours programme and a designed regime for patients with advanced breast cancer. The Advanced Breast Cancer group under the guidance of Mary Kelsey, Penelope Flowers and Olivia Logan is really treading its own path dictated by the needs of the patients.

The Steering Committee meeting due to busy calendars will be scheduled for March 2020.

In 2020, hopefully early in the year, the process of strategic planning and governance review with assistance from Dan Gabbett and Ben Horner will afford us some clarity for the forward path for Blush.

I would like to record our appreciation for all the work Sarah Weilandt has contributed to Blush across so many areas of our workload - events, bookings, the enormous workload of accounting and receipting, coming on the road with Blush goes Bush We wish her well and thank her for her meticulous attention to detail, and a few lists. Also thankyou to Andrew who has always been willing to assist with our functions and the work behind the scenes at our events.

I am still reminded when we hear the patients speak about their pathway through breast cancer that it is not easy, with both physical and mental health challenges. The list of possible interventions to assist these patients accordingly is ever expanding. Based on best practice and guided by founded clinical knowledge Blush will continue to assist and is possibly only limited by funding.

So, we are inspired by the patients and as Amy Poehler stated:
“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life forever.”
― Amy Poehler

Dr Sharyn Donaldson President,
Blush Cancer Care Inc.