The world of cancer diagnosis, tests, scans, radiotherapy, surgery, chemotherapy, doctors and nurses is a long way from Anne Stroud’s usual world. Living on 110 acres in the rugged but beautiful mountains around Seaton in East Gippsland, 60 year-old Anne shares her days with her husband Denis and the many kangaroos, king parrots, wombats and echidnas who visit each day.
Diagnosed with bowel cancer in March 2018, Anne’s treatment includes seven weeks of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, to be followed by surgery and then six months of further chemotherapy. A daunting prospect, especially for somebody who lives 200km away.
“I insisted on coming here to the ONJ Centre rather than being treated locally because a friend of mine was treated here for melanoma and was cared for so amazingly well,” says Anne.
Anne decided to stay close to the hospital while undergoing radiotherapy, giving her the opportunity and the time to immerse herself in the many nurturing and self-care wellness activities held here every day. Gentle yoga was a highlight for Anne.
“Gentle yoga was just amazing. It gave me contact with other people so I felt I wasn’t isolated or doing it alone,” says Anne. “It was six sessions and we were all able to take our own journey within the class and do it at our own pace. The relaxation was lovely, it taught me to give myself time and be kind to myself, I learnt breathing techniques and other beautiful things to help me in distressing situations.”
Surprised at how accessible the wellness programs were, Anne embraced many other offerings including oncology massage, singing in the Wellness choir, nutrition advice, talking with a social worker, and listening to beautiful music performed live in the ONJ Centre by a resident harpist and pianist.
“Participating in the wellness programs gives me a sense of comfort, a sense of friendship, I love coming to the Wellness Centre to have a coffee, sit in the beautiful gardens, and just take time for me. The holistic picture is amazing, just amazing.”
“Having cancer and access to these programs has taught me so much,” says Anne. “Being a busy person in my life at home and not sitting still very often, I’m taking a lot of these skills back home. I have three adult children, I’ve never given myself care or thought of myself, but these programs have taught me to do that now.”
“I’m just really thankful, I don’t know what it would have been like without this support for my own wellness and mental well-being. I love it, I just love it and I’m an advocate for Austin and the ONJ Centre every day.”
We are deeply grateful to Dry July for funding the Gentle Yoga program at the ONJ Centre. Gentle yoga incorporates modified poses to allow people with cancer to practise self-care through relaxation and breathing techniques. It can help promote better sleep, reduce fatigue and depressive symptoms and help patients to feel supported and nurtured throughout a stressful time.
The Wellness programs at the ONJ Centre would not happen without your support. Please consider making a donation today.