July meeting: preparing for WHNCD

A small turnout on Thursday 6 July. The America's Cup parade was on and the weather was atrocious. Nevertheless we had a fruitful meeting, getting to know a new member of our network, Sharmayne and welcoming Marlene Evans back into our midst. 

We started with a video about WHNCD, a day of observance that started in 2014. It featured Jatin P. Shah who is the head of the International Federation of Head and Neck Oncological Societies as well as Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Well worth looking at because it reminds us of our goals. 

it's about strengthening the care of head and neck cancer patients, enhancing the expertise of those who care for them and about prevention. 

Diana reminded us that other cancers have had world days for some time. Now it is out turn. It's a great event because it brings all the stakeholders together.

I talked about the stall at North Shore Hospital which will run from 10 am to 2 pm on the 27th. Roped in some more volunteers: Earl, Jill, David and Judy. We also displayed an early version of the patient care packs we want to give to all new patients. The idea is to let hospitals know that we have them and they can request the numbers they need. 

We will fundraise for the care packs on WHNCD as well as the other expenses that we incur. The good news is that we have had a large donation from the Irish Society thanks to the work of Bridie Murphy who was treated for head and neck cancer last year. It is for the care of patients, specifically helping them with parking charges and other difficult expenses they face as they go through lengthy treatment. We are very grateful for this donation and thrilled that it will be earmarked to support patients and their families. 

Diana talked briefly about the northern region review of head and neck cancer services. The powers that be are going to discuss ways in which the provision of dental care can be improved for head and neck cancer patients in our regions. After decades, the Auckland Support Group section of our network is making progress! 

One thing we want to draw attention to on WHNCD is the loss that this cancer inflicts on sufferers. We're making a list on Facebook but at the meeting we added some new horrors. Good thing we all have a sense of humour. You will soon be able to see a long list of issues we face in poster form; one we will place somewhere during WHNCD.

We compared wrist scars - four of us with large chunks taken out of our forearms. They fade amazingly over time. 

The August meeting will be very interesting but also challenging. Neil Croucher who is the overall manager of Oral Health will speak to us from Whangarei via Skype. One of his colleagues from Greenlane will be present at the meeting. This meeting, dear people, will go to the heart of the issues that many of us will face for the rest of our lives - our dental health and rehabilitation. Our Chair, Diana, will be recovering from surgery so it will be up to me and Judy as calm technical aide to facilitate this meeting. I'm feeling nervous already but excited at the prospect of having our voices heard in this very important field. 


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Diana Ayling

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  • I was asked by someone on a message board why there was a day for Head & Neck Cancer.  My answer "why not".  As a result of belonging to this group I've become aware of how it can affect people, not just during treatment, but for the rest of their life.  Most people have no understanding.  I certainly didn't.

    • With the HPV factor now so prevalent the day has extra special significance.  And look what breast cancer people have done for their cause ... we need to do the same in our small way. 

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