Di determined to beat cancer diagnosis
Cancer Council NSW volunteer Di Cohen is determined to get back to doing what she loves best – working for her community.
The great-grandmother of eight has been volunteering for Cancer Council NSW in Greater Western Sydney for 22 years. In February, after feeling unwell and visiting her doctor, Di was informed she had pancreatic cancer.
It is Di’s second cancer diagnosis, and just like the first time 24 years ago, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she is determined to beat the disease.
“I won’t let it beat me,” she said.
Di first found out about Cancer Council NSW while receiving treatment for breast cancer. She began volunteering at the Greater Western Sydney office, which was the start of a long affiliation with Cancer Council NSW.
“I volunteered in the Greater Western Sydney office five days a week. Then they brought in laws that meant you could only volunteer for a maximum 16 hours a week. In Australia, I think people should be able to make up their own minds about the number of hours they want to volunteer. I’ve never felt pressured into doing any more than I wanted to. I love doing it,” Di said.
Di said supporting events like Cancer Council’s Relay For Life, Daffodil Day and Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea was vital to beating cancer.
“It’s important to help get the message out there – to let people with cancer know they’re not alone. Hopefully, when my great-grandchildren are grown up, we’ll no longer have to worry about cancer,” she said.
Regional Manager for Cancer Council NSW Greater Western Sydney Rory Alcock said Di’s passion for helping those touched by cancer was evident in everything she does.
“As an office volunteer for 15 years she has been the friendly face on reception greeting visitors and triaging callers to staff members. The office has been a quieter place without her and we’ve all missed not having her with us,” Mr Alcock said.
“Di’s ability to connect and chat to anyone and everyone also made her a great Daffodil Day team leader at Westpoint Shopping Centre. I don’t think anyone could pass her stall without purchasing a daffodil or a Dougal bear.
“However, I think if Di was forced to name the volunteer role closest to her heart it would be as the Blacktown Relay For Life committee member responsible for honouring and celebrating survivors and carers. As someone who has had cancer she made sure that Blacktown Relay For Life’s survivors and carers morning tea was treated as the VIP event it should be.”
Di said she hoped to return to volunteering with Cancer Council NSW soon.
“I’ve met a lot of nice people through Cancer Council, people who I’m still friends with years later. I’d like to be able to get back – even if it’s just a couple of hours one day a week. Giving back is what makes volunteering so worthwhile,” she said.
Mr Alcock said people who wanted to volunteer with Cancer Council NSW in Greater Western Sydney could call (02) 9354 2000 or visit www.cancercouncil.com.au for more information.
Golfers tee off in support of Blacktown Relay For Life
Golfers hit the fairways at Stonecutters Ridge for the annual charity golf day on May 5, raising $14,000 in support of Blacktown Relay For Life.
Thirty-four teams of four contested an 18-hole ambrose competition in near perfect conditions.
Players had the chance to win an Audi donated from Audi Centre Parramatta valued at $55,000 if they could sink a hole-in-one on one of the shorter par three holes.
Event organiser Col Morris said the hole-in-one prize came close to being collected.
“It was a near-run thing. One shot fell within a metre of the hole,” he said.
Mr Morris said the golf day had been running for about 10 years in support of Blacktown Relay For Life, which celebrates 15 years in October.
Impromptu art show at Hills Relay For Life gala ball
An impromptu artwork by Archibald Packing Prize winner Nafisa Naomi was among the highlights of the 11th Hills Relay For Life gala ball on Saturday 6 May.
The artwork, drawn by Ms Naomi on a table cloth at the ball, featured images of African wildlife, and guests were able to see the work come to life throughout the course of the evening. The artwork was auctioned online to raise money for Hills Relay For Life on the weekend of 20 and 21 May at Castle Hill Showground.
Among items auctioned at the ball was a surfboard featuring the signatures of past and present Home and Away stars. Actor Lynne McGranger was also on hand to auction an exclusive tour of the Home and Away set.
“The most moving part of the evening featured singer David Sanders, who brought audience members to tears with his rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, while images of the 2016 Hope ceremony at Hills Relay For Life played in the background,” Cancer Council NSW Community Engagement Manager (Programs) Aruni Ratnayake said.
Mrs Ratnayake said the Hills Relay For Life gala ball had raised close to $400,000 for Relay For Life in the past decade.
Blacktown Hospital celebrates National Volunteer Week
Long-term Cancer Council NSW volunteers Rosemary Smith and Karen Walsh were among those to celebrate National Volunteer Week at Blacktown Hospital.
Rosemary and Karen have supported Relay For Life, Cancer Council NSW fundraising initiatives and the cancer action network. Both are currently Blacktown Cancer Council Information Services volunteers.
Community speakers enjoy Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea
Cancer Council NSW Greater Western Sydney office hosted an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea in conjunction with its new community speaker training program on 6 May.
Volunteer Programs Coordinator Shirley Buczak was delighted to welcome eight new community speakers to the program. Greater Western Sydney has engaged many new speakers from different walks of life and cultural backgrounds.
Such diversity is fundamental to the program as Greater Western Sydney has the largest number of non-English speaking local government areas in NSW. Shirley said Greater Western Sydney was proud it could share knowledge from the program with a broad audience.
Training included presentations from guest community speakers Sally Wybenga and Phil Burge.
Sally has been a community speaker since 2015 after retiring from her job as a high school geography and business studies teacher.
Phil has been with the program from 2012 and is committed to educating people about cancer, especially prostate cancer.
Both guest speakers were willing to share their stories and experiences. Such inspirational stories help the program grow and develop.
Previous regional news from 2017
Blacktown City councillors take the pledge
Blacktown City councillors have thrown their unanimous support behind the I Care for Palliative Care campaign.
Cancer Council NSW volunteer and International Woman of the Year 2017 for the Riverstone electorate Nicole Winram encouraged councillors to take the pledge and endorse the campaign at a council meeting on April 27.
Nicole was supported by Cancer Council NSW Greater Western Sydney Community Programs Coordinator Natalia Atcha.
In an address to councillors, Ms Winram spoke about her personal experience and the importance of improving palliative care across the state.
She also challenged Blacktown City Mayor Stephen Bali to encourage other Greater Western Sydney mayors and councillors to take the pledge and endorse the campaign.
Penrith comes together at Relay For Life
More than 1,100 participants took to the track at Penrith Paceway for the 16th annual Cancer Council NSW Penrith Relay For Life on 29 and 30 April.
The moving Candlelight ceremony featured some of the youngest Relayers, who shared stories of inspiration and hope with others, before dedicated participants continued relaying long into the night.
More than 70 volunteers donated their time to make the event a success by supporting the committee in managing proceedings for the day.
One volunteer who continues to go above and beyond at each Penrith Relay For Life is Ross Hutchinson. Ross took on the role of master of ceremonies throughout the entire 24 hours.
Thanks to incredible support from the Penrith community, this year’s Relay has already raised more than $200,000, with a target of $400,000 expected to be reached.
Advocate and MPL Nicole Winram Awarded International Woman of the Year for electorate of Riverstone.
Minister for Women Tanya Davies joined Member for Riverstone, Kevin Conolly MP, to announce that our very own volunteer Nicole Winram is the Riverstone electorate Local Woman of the Year for 2017.
Nicole has been an inspiring volunteer in the Greater Western Sydney region for the last two years, after she lost her husband to cancer. As a community advocate and campaigner, Nicole was instrumental in the Saving Life Campaign to raise awareness of the financial burden that co-payment fees were placing on the families of those receiving infused chemotherapy treatment. Her advocacy efforts contributed strongly to the NSW Government committing to invest $76 million to abolish the co-payments system, and the Premier made special mention of Nicole’s advocacy efforts in the campaign.
You may also recognize Nicole in the current advocacy campaign ‘I Care for Palliative Care’, in which her story is featured in a booklet to urge Health Minister Brad Hazzard to end the shortage of palliative care by funding 10 additional specialist palliative doctors, at a minimum; 129 extra palliative care nurses; and culturally appropriate palliative care for Aboriginal people. She is also involved in the local Relay For Life, Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea and Daffodil Day fundraising projects.
“I congratulate Nicole on her outstanding achievement and thank her for her exceptional example,” said Minister Davies.
Nicole joined the Minister for Women, Tanya Davies at the 2017 NSW Women of the Year award ceremony held at the Sydney International Convention Centre on Wednesday, 8 March.
Catch up with previous months’ news by going here and then clicking on your blue ‘region’ link.