In the spirit of National Volunteer Week 2011 – "Inspiring the Volunteer in You" – Victorian Minister for Mental Health, Women's Affairs and Community Services, The Hon. Mary Wooldridge honoured the invaluable contribution of the volunteers of BreaCan, a service for women with breast and gynaecological cancers.
Commenting on the contribution of volunteers at BreaCan during National Volunteer Week the Minister said:"Volunteers contribute millions of hours across the state every year, giving to so many people and so many communities. I congratulate BreaCan for creating an environment where volunteers can thrive. Their contribution is so substantial and so greatly appreciated".
A peer-support volunteer at BreaCan for eight years, Mary Neofitou spoke on behalf of approximately thirty other volunteers who work alongside BreaCan Information and Support Officers who offer help and comfort during a time that can be distressing and isolating for many people.
"For the volunteers it seems natural to want to share our experiences and knowledge to help others as they embark on a journey we too have travelled. Our work at BreaCan can be challenging and confronting, however, it is all made worthwhile when you hear a woman after having spoken to a volunteer say, 'I never thought I would laugh again," Mary said.
BreaCan provides information sessions that are both medical and wellness focused, looking at the many areas of a woman's life that can be affected by a cancer diagnosis. Other services include a fortnightly exercise program and reflexology treatments. BreaCan also features a walk-in resource centre and information library. Information is available by phone (for the cost of a local call) and on BreaCan's website for people who are unable to visit the centre.
BreaCan services are available to all women who have been diagnosed with breast and gynaecological cancers with no referral necessary.
Acknowledging BreaCan's unique model of supportive care, Rita Butera, Executive Director, Women's Health Victoria said:"BreaCan offers valuable support and information in a welcoming and safe environment. Many women have told us that this service has been extremely complementary to their medical treatment and at times crucial to their recovery. It is important that services in the cancer sector work together and spread the word about what is on offer so that women can have access to the best available care and support at times when they need it the most", Rita Butera added.