President's Report 2021

I would like to thank all committee members and volunteers who have assisted us with our works and conveying our ethos of service to others over the last 12 months. I am very aware that everyone who gives to the Blush Community have so many other facets to their life and hence time given to support Blush impacts everyone’s schedule. I can only reinforce that from the coal face where we interact with the patients and their families, the end result of the support we are able to provide continues to have a very positive and sometimes life- changing impact.

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.

2021 enabled Blush to further work under a new governance model and I have personally noticed a changing impetus on both the activities we provide for patients and also to the overall profile of Blush. I appreciate that at times the subcommittees and working groups may have felt the Board was not aware and fully supporting their activities. I would like to reassure you this is certainly not the case- the Board is very cognisant of the tireless work that has continued throughout the year. There are too many to name you all personally but please take this as a personal thankyou as we know you have been giving so much time and energy to allow all of varied aspects of Blush to continue.

I need to thank the Board- we have had quite a difficult year. Sadly the relationship with St Vincent’s, despite our wish to negotiate, was not viable. This still remains an ongoing legal matter and I have appreciated the clarity of thought the Board has brought to this matter. It has been quite unsettling and we hope can soon be resolved.

 As a result of this the Funding agreement remains in abeyance and will need to be clarified in the New Year. The board has taken measures to ensure no patient will be excluded from our services. Consultants are aware and thankful for Blush’s services and programs and they will directly refer patients. The Board will need to look at additional funding to cover the hours required for all of these patients to be cared for by Mary and Gaye.

There still has been the ongoing impact imposed by COVID but as we near the end of this year there is a general feeling that we are emerging and will return to more freedom in our interactions and connectivity. I felt this joint relief and noted the tangible joy for those who attended the Bridge Walk. It was also wonderful to return to the educational forum - there was a buzz in the room. While this is an educational day the platform it confers for patient interaction is priceless.

I was fortunate to emcee the educational forum and I wanted to communicate to the audience the community support and the functions that have been organized this year to raise funds to facilitate Blush activities. What a list - I will leave this to the Events Sub-Committee report and I thank them again as events don’t happen without a lot of work and coordination.

There have been a number of major sponsors and grants this year. We thank Lexus Toowoomba and Jamie and Emma Pattinson of Carpet One, the Westfund Grant, The Hand Heart Pocket Grant and Heritage Charitable Foundation Grant. In particular we need to recognize the contribution of time and advice we were fortunate to receive from Paul Olds. Several community groups continue to support us- the Zonta Clubs, Rotary, Toowoomba Golf Club. Many new businesses and groups have been generous with their donations. The success of the High Teas at home and the new Blushing Pink Day have assisted with funds and very importantly have created greater community exposure for Blush. It was an honour to go to work and see a sea of Blush shirts at Platinum and St Andrews for most of October. I am very thankful to the Breast Care Nurses for attending many events out of hours and for Eliza and Claire who have been able to give more of their time as guest speakers. This list is certainly not complete and there are many individuals, businesses, schools and more who have given time to support Blush. Thank you to the Events team and also to Claire for grant applications.

A very large part of funds raised is from the sale of merchandise- this is a huge task and we need to thank Lisa McDonald, Tricia Barr, Cathy Skinner and Wendy Bassingthwaite. In October this is almost a full time job and we appreciate the time and precision in keeping all of this stock being delivered, collected, counted and then onto banking. Additionally Wendy again cooked up a storm for her luncheon and the cake stall at St Andrew’s raising a remarkable amount.

The web site has had an incredible makeover and the Board wisely made the decision that to go forward this needed to be supported by work from a dedicated company. Indigo Web has gone beyond their brief and some work hours have been donated. Social media has had a very strong polished presence for Blush- thankyou to Leanne Gillam and also to Tahlia Pauli who is assisting and in particular with the Facebook group which seems to be ever growing. This also relies on all of the committee sending forward the stories and photos – thank you for assisting in growing the profile and sharing some wonderful stories of giving and caring.

So why do we do this - To the end of October there has been 40 women seen through the Advanced Cancer Group, about 140 new patients, so therefore 140 fluffy ducks and drainage bags and post-operative bras along with the Blush Bundles were distributed. At least 3,335 Episodes of care performed by the Breast Care Nurses, 26 ladies through the Fight Back with Fitness program, 5 new active treatment patients through the initial active intervention Blush B fit program, 120 attendees at the Blush Forum. These figures don’t count the patient to patient interactions which are facilitated by the platforms that allow them to connect. Also to note are the ‘guest speaking’ events whereby talking about Blush and Breast cancer we increase awareness of disease and the need to screen.

The Nurses have continued to face some difficulties in relation to Covid Issues impacting on patient care.  As we suspected we have had increased numbers presenting and of note many patients have come to Toowoomba to avoid the city. We also sadly have had a number of advanced cancers and younger patients. We thank Bronwyn for her work. We acknowledge the workload Gaye and Mary have managed with their patient workload, the ABC group, the Fitlab and Blush B active programs and the forum. We also acknowledge the contribution of Penny Flowers chairing the ABC group and wish her well as she moves with family to Brisbane.

Blush would like to recognise all of the contributions of Rosemary Grundy and Jen Rix. Rosemary with her positive outlook and enthusiasm for all things exercise. Jen has had a very long association with Blush and in fact gave up a week of her time to go Bush with Blush. Please accept these flowers and from all at Blush thank you.

I am sorry to talk forever but we have covered so much this year this report needs to attempt to be inclusive. I know there are many others who have continued to work away in the background and we can not 

 From the document on Optimal Care Pathways for people with Breast Cancer 2nd Edition published June 2021 it states describe the standard of care that should be available to all cancer patients treated in Australia. Seven key principles underpin the guidance provided in the pathways: patient-centred care; safe and quality care; multidisciplinary care; supportive care; care coordination; communication; and research and clinical trials. 

Blush is very cautious that all support services we embark on are based on best practice guidelines and meet the needs of our patient cohort. We will continue to look for additional supports we can implement. Addressing the last point above of research Blush is able to extend some funding to partner with USQ to support research. This will be centred around our patient cohort and it has also been shown that involvement in research is has positive impacts on patients. 

I would like to share two more positive stories. We will award a $250 Xmas Voucher this year to a patient who is struggling going into Christmas. This will be the Patricia Barr Xmas Gift. 

Another supporter of Blush has offered their family beach holiday unit for several weeks each year for a patient and their family to have a break away. I yesterday saw the family who are going in a few weeks. The mother has advanced breast cancer which has been difficult to manage, there have been some other family issues and they have two young boys aged 8 and 9. One of the boys all year has been asking to go to an Aquarium so during their stay they are going to Underwater World - their excitement was infectious. 

Thank you for the Year that was 2021 and we look forward to another uphill climb in 2022. Last year I spoke about resilience and I think we as a collective group must be as tough as nails after the last few years. Winston Churchill said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Dr Sharyn Donaldson President,
Blush Cancer Care Inc.