Extra Support for Cancer Survivors at Prince of Wales Hospital
The sheer horror of cancer is not lost on any of us. We all know someone who has been diagnosed with the disease or lost someone to it. In the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District alone, around 5,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year, and while those who survive may be considered the lucky ones, their battle goes way beyond chemotherapy and the word ‘remission’.
Randwick local Constance Synesios knows this hardship all too well. After being diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma at just 22 years of age, she underwent six months of treatment and on average endured around 14 hours of chemotherapy each week. This is physically and emotionally gruelling for anyone, let alone a young single mother with a toddler at home.
Ms Synesios’ cancer was more than just tumours and chemo. It affected her daughter, her family, her friends, her education and so much more. Now, six months after her final round of treatment, she’s still facing challenges.
“Being on steroids for so long added the extra kilos and masked the strain it put on both my muscles and bones,” she told The Beast.
“Since finishing my treatment it has become a lot harder to carry that extra weight without the help of steroids as my muscles and bones are now having to do it on their own.”
Constance also struggled to find a job. “Many employers would’ve looked at my resume and thought I have just been lazy and chosen not to work for such a long period. The last thing you want to do is tell your story over and over again.”
While we may not be able to prevent this suffering, we can support patients and survivors through these additional and unexpected challenges. This is precisely why the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation is investing $400,000 in a new Cancer Survivorship Centre. Opening in the second half of 2019, it will be a non-clinical ‘home away from home’ where patients, survivors and families can get the support they need.
Leanne Zalapa, CEO of the Prince of Wales Hospital Foundation, told The Beast that the Prince of Wales Hospital will see around 3,000 people with cancer this year.
“The Centre will house a living room, media room, library and study room, interview/meeting rooms and landscaped gardens. It will be a place where people can engage and connect with others impacted by cancer, take time out from the hospital environment and relax, and also access a suite of holistic services,” she explained.
Ms Synesios welcomes this new centre. Despite the outstanding support and care she received from her family, friends, nurses and ward staff throughout her treatment, she believes more can be done to help cancer survivors. From physiotherapy to help finding a job, a new centre could help survivors get back on track in the real world both practically and emotionally.
“Cancer can really put a barrier between you and your regular social activities as you are no longer able to do as much as you used to while being treated. Having a place where people going through the same thing can sit and socialise would be amazing.”
“Personally I would like to use the opportunity to visit the Prince of Wales Hospital Cancer Survivorship Centre to share my story and my experience and to give people the hope and the confidence to be able to stay strong and persevere.”
You too can help by making a donation to support the new Cancer Survivorship Centre. Every $1 (up to $70,000) will be matched by a generous Foundation supporter. To donate, visit www.powhf.org.au/cancer.