Acceptance is a big thing – you’ve got to accept what’s happening to you to move forward
By Cancer Council NSW
Cheryl knew something was wrong when she experienced changes in her bowel habits, indigestion and nausea. Cheryl’s GP advised her to have a CT scan and the results confirmed that she had ovarian cancer.
Prior to her diagnosis, Cheryl often experienced a tickle in her throat and a constant cough. “I was burping a lot, going to the toilet to use my bowels at different times, and I couldn’t sit still for more than 5 or 6 minutes,” she added.
Cheryl’s GP estimated that she would have a fifty-fifty chance of surviving the ovarian cancer. Thankfully, Cheryl has now been cancer free 20 years later.
How Cheryl helps other people diagnosed with cancer through Cancer Connect
Cheryl Waller has been volunteering with Cancer Council’s Cancer Connect Program since 2005, while also actively advocating for the LGBTQI+ community. Cancer Connect is a free and confidential telephone peer support service for people experiencing localised cancer and survivorship issues. Trained volunteers like Cheryl understand what it’s like to have cancer. They can help identify coping strategies and provide practical information and general emotional support.
Cheryl has provided support and guidance to 50 clients. “It’s been really great – you can talk to women who are going through a similar thing and have a lot of questions to ask,” Cheryl said.
“Sometimes women are afraid to ask their doctors questions, and I can say to them, that’s a logical question. I was fortunate to have no issues with my sexuality during my treatment.”
“Acceptance is a big thing – you’ve got to accept what’s happening to you to move forward,” Cheryl advised.
A new resource has arrived to support LGBTQI+ people through cancer
As a dedicated Cancer Connect volunteer, Cheryl provides support to LGBTQI+ individuals and understands the importance of resources tailored to those within the community who are affected by cancer.
LGBTQI+ People and Cancer: A guide for people with cancer, their families and friendsis a new information booklet developed by Cancer Council NSW. This information booklet was created as part of the Western Sydney University Out with Cancer research project in collaboration with Prof Jane Ussher and her team. It answers common questions about navigating a cancer diagnosis when you are LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other diverse sexualities and genders, as well as people with intersex variations).
The Out with Cancer research showed that LGBTQI+ people have higher rates of distress after a cancer diagnosis and identified a pressing need for tailored cancer information. The LGBTQI+ People and Cancer booklet is a world-first resource that helps fill this information gap. Printed copies are available in cancer treatment centres throughout Australia or on request by calling Cancer Council 13 11 20.