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Health professionals

Cancer Council WA has thanked members of the Country Women’s Association of Western Australia (CWA) for their support and dedication to helping those with cancer for the past 50 years.

Since the late 70s, the Association has given support to cancer patients with the provision of turbans for those experiencing hair loss due to chemotherapy, bibs for laryngectomy patients, under-arm comfort pillows for those with lymphoedema, and temporary prosthesis for mastectomy patients.

Coordinator of the prosthesis workshop, Helen Gallop, said her mother’s own cancer journey inspired her to help others.

“In February 1996, I joined the Midland Branch of the CWA and was invited to go along to a prothesis workshop. Twenty seven years later I now coordinate these workshops,” Helen said.

“My mother had a mastectomy and she did wear a prothesis, so it makes me feel good knowing I am helping people like my mother.

“No one plans to have a mastectomy, so I get a lot of satisfaction being able to help make these items for when they are needed.”

Helen does the cutting of the prosthesis at her home, then a group of four or five gather in West Perth once a month to sew the shells which are later stuffed with soft Dacron filling and dropped off at Cancer Council WA.

One of the original members of the Breast Cancer Prosthesis Project is champion Muriel Barron.

“In the late 1970’s a call was put out for ladies to make prosthesis for Cancer Council, so I decided to give it a go,” Muriel said.

“In the early days we had sheep wool to fill the cases, but as the wool was full of burrs, we spent a lot of time removing the burrs and combing the wool.

“The prosthesis gives the ladies a little bit of dignity while waiting for their reconstructive surgery. We cater to all sizes, from size 10 through to size 42.

“I have been with the group now for about 40 years and so glad that I am part of a group that has provided comfort to thousands of recipients over the years.”

Cancer Council WA Cancer Information and Support Services Director, Melanie Marsh, acknowledged the incredible support offered to cancer patients by members of the CWA.

“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all members past and present of the CWA who have continuously volunteered their time to help WA cancer patients,” Ms Marsh said.

“Each year the prosthesis team provide around 600 temporary prosthesis for women who have had a mastectomy, stoma bibs for people with throat cancer, and turbans for our wig library.

“This is a tremendous example of women helping women and improving the morale and psychological recovery of cancer patients both in Perth and regional WA.”