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  • Hope Spencer

Foundations and Beginnings

Welcome to my blog! For my first few posts I am going to introduce myself and hopefully give you some insight as to what has motivated me to step into the world of cancer rehabilitation. I also hope to impart some important messages that I think are key and our community should know as common knowledge, giving you the ability to help change the lives of those people diagnosed with cancer in your life with your newly learned wisdom.


To begin with, first and foremost I am a Woman, Daughter, Sister, Wife and Mother. On my mother’s side of the family, we have a strong history of breast cancer which fortunately has been absent so far for my mother and myself. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for my grandparents, great aunts and great grandmother who all have received cancer diagnoses in their life and some sadly lost their battle. In the photos below you can see my Great Grandmother with her 3 Daughters, Me as a child with my Mother and my Grandmother and my Grandmother with her Husband. Despite cancers current silence in my life, I still worry for my Mum, myself and now my daughter. I recently have learnt that 1 in 7 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, it used to be 1 in 8 so this trend also worries me. With this in mind, I then looked at how I can be a positive part of these statistics, to help lower the number of cancer diagnosis and to help those who have been diagnosed.


As well as being all those things previously mentioned, I am also a Physiotherapist, and this has given me a wonderful platform to be able to share my skills and knowledge to help people with their health. I have always been fascinated by the human body, from the complexities our of biochemistry to the simplicity of principles like ‘use it or lose it’. As I have progressed in my education and career, I have found a passion in specific areas such as rehabilitation. I first discovered the area of ‘cancer rehabilitation’ in early 2019, when the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia released their position statement on Exercise in Cancer Care (this document is available on our resources page of our website). The document advocates for exercise to be embedded as part of standard practice in cancer care and strongly recommends the referral of cancer patients and survivors to accredited physiotherapists and exercise physiologists with experience in cancer care. This document held the key to joining my personal and professional worlds together, igniting a new passion and drive in myself.


Next was to figure out how I become one of the physiotherapists that cancer patients could be referred to. I came across PINC & STEEL and that is where I found the resources needed to learn more about cancer rehabilitation and become a certified therapist. Due to my family history of breast cancer I chose to undergo training for the PINC Program which was created to provide women with specialised rehabilitation programs dedicated to improving their quality of life, wellbeing and over health after a cancer diagnosis. As I completed each week of training, I knew I was heading in the right direction and at the end I was ready, able and passionate about being able to provide this program to the women in my local community. During my training I started looking around for businesses which may be offering this service already, I didn’t come across any ‘cancer-focused’ clinics in South-Western Sydney. I googled cancer rehabilitation NSW, and the map of services was all located around Sydney CBD, with many being through wither the Public or Private Hospital system. I thought, how was this possible? With all the research, international and nation guidelines, position statements and media coverage, why was this not something more readily available to people. During my research I came across a video, and episode of Catalyst from ABC on exercise and cancer. It was such a great representation of what cancer rehabilitation does, and I was blown away that it was from 2016! I know research is ongoing and can take time to become standard practice, but to me this was just unacceptable. As Professor Robert Newton says in the video, “The evidence is so strong now, the cancer patients deserve this medicine. It’s a very powerful medicine, it actually increases their survival and it has no side effects.”


And now, well now is the next BIG step. To take the leap into the unknown, the world of business and take on all the challenges that come with starting your own business. I look forward to sharing more with you over the following weeks, for now I will leave you with the link to the Catalyst episode which I very strongly recommend you spend 25 minutes to watch.


Lets help get cancer patients the medicine they deserve.


Hope





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