An extraordinary Sunraysia organisation supporting people diagnosed with cancer is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its shopfront service this month.
Sunraysia Cancer Resources is one of the longest-running services of its type in Victoria and during its first decade has directly provided information, support and advice to more than 15000 inquiries from patients and their families from across Sunraysia and the Mallee.
The 10th anniversary of the Sunraysia Cancer Resources shopfront falls on April 17 (Easter Monday) and Centre Manager Viona Woodroffe said the organisation was keen to use the week to reconnect with many of the families and people it has supported.
“A cancer diagnosis is always tough for the patient as well as those around them and we know that our service has been really important support to people in so many ways when they’re confronting that experience,” Ms Woodroffe said.
“Our records list more than 3000 transport clients alone over the 10 years, but, of course, the ripple effect through family members and friends is much higher,” she said.
Ms Woodroffe said as part of the 10-year anniversary celebrations, Sunraysia Cancer Resources hoped to document some of the stories of past and current clients.
“For every cancer diagnosis, there is a very personal experience or set of experiences and more than anything else, that shows the importance of community-based organisations like ours,” she said.
On an average day, 18 people either visit or contact Sunraysia Cancer Resources and, in response to community demand, a five-days a week operation is now being trialled.
“A lot of what we do involves assisting cancer patients and their carers through our transport program and that’s incredibly important, practically and financially,” Ms Woodroffe said.
“But there are a whole range of things that are meaningful to people, such as providing wigs and other living aids, helping them access reliable information and linking them to other organisations in the community,” she said.
“And sometimes just offering a listening ear is all people need. Our role is whatever it needs to be to help people navigate that practical and emotional minefield that feels so overwhelming.”
Over the past decade, Sunraysia Cancer Resources has grown into an organisation turning over more than half a million dollars a year.
“All of that is done entirely from community fundraising, which is incredible, if you think about it,” Ms Woodroffe said.
“There is no Government funding for Sunraysia Cancer Resources – this is local people looking after local people, and that’s part of what’s important to many of those who experience cancer,” she said.
“In a sense, it feels like the whole community is supporting you with what you are going through.”
Former clients and their families are welcome to visit Sunraysia Cancer Resources shopfront at 145 10th Street during the anniversary week from April 18 to 21 to reconnect with staff and volunteers, share their story or enjoy a piece of birthday cake.