Community, Health Services,

Answering the big questions on cancer

Covering everything from diagnosis, exercise and what you should tell your dentist, the Managing Cancer workshop, held recently at Latrobe Regional Health (LRH) gave attendees valuable information as they start treatment and their individual journeys of living with cancer.

“The sessions started again last November, for people who are recently diagnosed with cancer or have commenced treatment. They include an insight into what the treatments can look like and also sharing the support services available to them,” Donna O’Callaghan from the Gippsland Regional Integrated Cancer Service (GRICS) said

The session brought together people from Phillip Island, Bairnsdale and Willow Grove to hear from a diverse group of speakers.

“We ask some of the people who work here at LRH to come and chat about their area of expertise. It’s very informal. We encourage people to ask questions if they feel comfortable, if not, we can follow up with staff on their behalf,” Donna said.

The list of health professionals includes a medical oncologist, the nurse unit manager of the Chemotherapy Unit, cancer care nurses, radiation oncologists, dietitians, radiation therapists, social workers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

“I think the main benefit is to ensure that patients have the opportunity to ask questions specific to their cancer journey, especially in the complex and rapidly evolving specialty we work in,” LRH Medical Oncologist, Dr Holly Atkinson said.

“It also helps to know that there is a friendly face up in the consulting suites and that we encourage questions and will give the most honest answers possible.”

The workshop also welcomed carers of people with cancer.

“We find it super useful to bring carers in. They are so central to everything that is happening, so by giving them the same information and answering their questions alongside their loved one, it can definitely help both prepare everyone and make those next few months that little bit easier,” Donna said.

While much of the workshop is about treatments, medications, side effects and recovery, a large section is devoted to the emotional toll that cancer treatment can take.

Cancer Care Nurse Hayley Mangion is one of a team that assists patients who are undergoing chemotherapy or immunotherapy and spoke about the support available to them as they begin their treatment.

“Patients are able to ask questions of the medical oncologist and other healthcare professional, like us, in a safe environment. We can either address the questions right there or follow up with patients in a more private setting.” Hayley said.


The Managing Cancer workshops run through the year. If you would like to know when the next session is being held contact Belinda Hua via email or phone: 03 5173 8770.