Scalp Cooling Machine Fundraiser

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It appears Sally McRobert is the person to ask if you need any fundraising done. At present she is raising money to purchase a “Scalp Cooling Machine” for the Forster Oncology Unit at the Private Hospital.

She is passionate about the cause in particular, as all the money raised stays in the local area, helping local people public and private. Previously she has been on the committee for “The Great Lakes Relay For Life” for ten years, in which time they raised over $400,000 for the New South Wales Cancer Council. They had a committee of 8/10 people, so this was an amazing effort. Another example of a town getting behind a great local cause.

What motivated you to start the fundraising?

I heard a nurse from Taree talking about fundraising in Forster for a “Scalp Cooing Machine”, and I saw this an opportunity to add to our local Oncology Unit that has been up and running since  2011. If this facility wasn’t available to our local patients, they would have to travel to Taree or Port Macquarie for treatment, adding to their costs and stress levels.

How does the “scalp cooling machine” work?

The use of scalp cooling or “cold caps” is proven to be an effective way of combatting chemotherapy-induced hair loss and can result in a high level of retention or completely preserve the hair. For male and female patients, this means the opportunity to regain some control, maintain their privacy and encourage a positive attitude towards treatment.

Have you or your family been associated with cancer?

Yes. I was diagnosed with secondary renal cancer in April 2014, having my initial diagnosis in 2003. I believe it is very unusual to have a secondary renal diagnosis, but someone has to rewrite the records – don’t they!

At the time, my husband and I were managing a retirement village in Tuncurry, a position we thoroughly enjoyed, but I could only manage to stay on a further six months when fatigue set in. We were forced to retire, so decided to go to Queensland for 12 months to spend time with family, as my diagnosis suggested 2½ to 3 years.

Whilst in Queensland, I was introduced to Oncologist Dr Andrew Hill, who said he had a drug that may help me, but it would cost a million dollars! “Go home and think about it,” were his words! We didn’t have to think very long, as it wasn’t an option. After three visits and several letters to our Health Minister, local member and the drug company, I was granted the drug on compassionate grounds and elected to start treatment immediately.

When did you return to Forster?

In March 2016, I was able to transfer my fortnightly treatment to the Forster Oncology Unit. I cannot praise Dr Ted Livshin and the staff enough, and we are so lucky to have such a facility available to us. My treatment is an immunotherapy drug, Nivolumab, which targets my immune system, which in turn fights the cancer cells. I have scans every three months and to date, my tumours are disappearing, although I realise it is not a cure.  However, I am back playing golf and living a relatively normal life.

So how is the fundraising going?

I have been going since October 2016, and money is coming in. I am still knocking on doors asking for donations and in fact, have got my husband doing  the same – something we don’t like doing, but it appears to be most effective.

People and businesses are very generous in our area, and I believe the fact it is a local project going to local people means people are more giving. I have written to most of the service and community clubs in town, and their replies are coming in.

Do you have upcoming events you would like to mention?

Yes, thank you. On Saturday 8th April at 2pm I am organising a “High Tea” at the Shores Club at Halliday Shores, High Street, Blackhead. Both men and ladies are welcome.

Tickets are $20, which includes beautiful homemade cakes and savouries, a lucky door prize, and we will be running a mystery balloon raffle during the afternoon, with two prizes being a trial introductory flight, complements of the Taree Aero Club.

The Shores craft group will also have a trading table.

Tickets are available at the Forster Private Oncology Unit, or by contacting myself on 0412 306 242.

Do you need any help?

Always need help, but if anyone would like to donate to this very worthwhile cause they could leave donations at the reception desk at the Forster Private Hospital, and they will issue you with a receipt. Or, give me a call on 0412 306 242, and I can give you bank account details.

Would you like to thank anyone?

I would like to thank all the very kind people, businesses and clubs who have donated so generously. I will mention names at the end of the fundraising, so as not to leave anyone out.

A special thank you to Dr Ted Livshin, our wonderful Oncologist, not only for his valued support but for always being there, and to the wonderful staff at the Oncology Unit for your empathy and sincerity.

You really put a meaning to “my lifeline”.

Story contributed by Sally McRobert.

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