Support group: (from left) WALAC facilitator Margaret Redmond and participants John and Shirley Carrington, Margaret and John Mendoza and Gillian Gorrie at Kilmore Hospital’s cancer support program. ​

By Brooke Haffenden

THE Kilmore and District Hospital (TKDH) has just finished its Wellness and Life After Cancer (WALAC) program, providing support to local residents in need.

In collaboration with the Cancer Council, the program, across a two-week period, provided free education and support to people who have completed active treatment.

Going one step further in its role to help residents, the program wasn’t just limited to those who had gone through treatment but was also available to those living with cancer, carers, partners and family members.

The program, which was dubbed ‘living well’ by one group of participants, offered residents the opportunity to partake in sessions such as recovery exercise, fatigue and cancer treatment, health and wellness plans, eating well, wellbeing and relationship advice, finances and work, GP and local health services.

Program facilitator Margaret Redmond knows more than most the importance of having a program or group that can offer support locally.

For the past 30 years Ms Redmond has worked as a nurse and she delivered accurate care at the Kilmore Hospital for more than a decade.

Ms Redmond has also experienced her own cancer journey which inspired her to lead the new health service.

“I’ve had my own cancer journey. I saw a gap. I know what it’s like to be in intensive intensive intensive intensive (treatment) and it dropped… and then asking what now,” she said.

“There are so many things doctors can’t answer and you need a support group.
“There’s really a need for an ongoing support group out here.”

THE North Central Review spent some time with Ms Redmond and some of the participants during their last session, all of whom acknowledged the need for an ongoing support base locally.

“It’s a local community of cancer support and carers together,” resident Shirley Carrington said.

“The letter ‘C’ puts the fear of God in people and they don’t know how to communicate their feelings.

“There is a life after cancer.”

“It’s been lovely. We’ve been here with everyone and the discussions with everyone have been good,” participant Margaret Mendoza added.

With the first program a success, The Kilmore and District Hospital Director of Clinical Services Kate Pryde confirmed it will be on offer twice a year.

“The WALAC program is offered throughout the region biannually and TKDH will look to hosting a repeat event in the second half of this year,” Ms Pryde said.

“A number of the WALAC participants have suggested that we look to developing a locally based cancer support group that provides professional information and support to our community that are impacted by cancer whether they are currently undertaking treatment, are recovering from treatment or are cancer survivors.

“TKDH is very interested in supporting this in association with Hume Regional Integrated Cancer Services and the Cancer Council of Victoria.”

Interested community members are encouraged to contact the WALAC facilitator for more information about the next program and/or the community based support group  at redmondm@humehealth.org.au