Cancer Council WA's Crawford Lodge theatre room officially opens

Country cancer patients at Cancer Council WA’s Crawford Lodge in Nedlands now have a place to relax, recline and enjoy a movie or some live music thanks to a new multi-functional theatre room built with funds from Dry July.

CCWA Chief Executive Officer, Susan Rooney, said the funds raised from Dry July have enabled some very exciting additions at the two lodges, particularly the theatre room at Crawford Lodge.

“This is a wonderful room that will allow up to 20 guests to relax in a comfortable environment and unwind and watch a movie, listen to some acoustic music, or perhaps take in some live sport on television,” Ms Rooney said.

The room includes sound proofing, reclining chairs, surround sound system, screen and stage and lighting. 

As well as the theatre room at Crawford Lodge, there were a number of other improvements to the lodges which were made possible:

•    a covered walkway at Crawford Lodge was built -  where guests previously walked outside the main building and along a short path to access their rooms, this domed cover now enables them to get to their rooms without having to walk through cold, rain and winds;

•    ceiling fans were installed at Crawford Lodge and Milroy Lodge - this gives the country patients staying at the lodges an alternative airflow option to air-conditioning during the hot summer;

•    mattresses were replaced at Milroy Lodge -  the existing mattresses at Milroy Lodge were seven years old, and were replaced with high quality durable and more comfortable mattresses; and

•    WiFi and Skype were introduced at both Crawford Lodge and Milroy Lodge - Skype-enabled computers and printers for guests were purchased to use at the lodges; tablets and WiFi were bought to enable guests to communicate with family from the comfort and privacy of their own rooms.

Ms Rooney said the changes will make a significant difference to the guests at both lodges.

“We appreciate the support of everyone who went dry in July to help these additions become a reality. They’re directly helping nearly four thousand country cancer patients who stay in our two lodges each year in Perth while they undergo treatment,” Ms Rooney said.

The Why in my Dry July

Jackson Ryan; on trying to give up as much as his mother has and raising money for adults living with cancer.


Did you ever get to make a wish as you cut your birthday cake? You know how, as long as you didn’t touch the bottom of the plate (and you were old enough to be loosed upon a large knife), you were provided with a single wish for whatever your heart desired? The catch, of course, is that you can’t tell anybody what you wish for because that is breaking the single rule of wish-making and whatever force of nature is the Granter Of All Wishes doesn’t take kindly to that. Today though, I want to tell you the one thing I’ve wished for since as long as I can remember.

“I wish me and my family could be dieproof”

I started wishing for that not long after my aunt, who had battled cancer for ten years, passed away. I was 9. I think it was the first time I really experienced loss. I didn’t have the word ‘immortal’ in my vocabulary yet. I figured that the Granter Of All Wishes would understand ‘dieproof’.

I can’t strongly recall if 9 year old me had any idea of what was happening. Sure, I was sad, I was crying a lot, but so was my mum and I think I was crying for her and my little brother and the uncertainty of the whole thing. I mean, what happened next? What even was it that caused my aunt to die? I had no idea. I wasn’t brought up to believe that my aunt was going to That Better Place Adults Talk About. It was a thing that happened that I understood enough to know we wouldn’t be seeing my aunt anymore. That was a sad thought.

I didn’t understand “cancer”, because kids don’t understand cancer. I confused it with the star sign, with a crab and a constellation, and never really bothered asking what it was. For whatever reason (predominantly an interesting and exciting year 11 biology teacher), I got interested in science and began to understand cancer. It wasn’t long after that I entered university, studying medical science, that I actually fully understood what cancer was — what cancer is. Then I confronted it again during university, when my closest friend lost his father to it.

Toward the end of my degree I actually appreciated the lengths that cancerous cells go to avoid the immune system. I understood how DNA becomes damaged in the process of unzipping and rezipping and how specific genes switch off or stop working so that cancer cells don’t die naturally, like cells are wont to do. I began to understand that there are many forms of cancer, and many reasons that it arises. I began to learn that my mother’s side of the family likely has a genetic mutation, as yet unknown to us, that raises the incidence of breast cancer — and that this mutation wasn’t one of the few that science has already discovered a lot about. I learnt that this is what my aunt fought against for many years and that potentially, my mum might have to as well.

Importantly, I learnt that people never give up and I learnt how much people have to give up for cancer.

Several years ago, my mother opted to have preventative surgery in which both her breasts would be removed.

Suddenly, my prepubescent dreams of immortality for my family and myself seemed childish. I’ve never wanted to give those wishes up, not even now, some fifteen years later whenever I have a chance to cut the cake. But, then my own mum has given up parts of her flesh. Not just for her health, but for me — for her family — my brother, her husband, my niece. My mum confronted her mortality and hammered home the point that there is no ‘dieproof’. There is no immortal. She sacrificed and suffered through pain and surgical complications for me — to stop that shadow, that lurking, insidious ghost, Cancer.

For that reason, for the entire month of July I am giving up drinking alcohol as part of the Dry July initiative.

Dry July raises funds for adults living with cancer and specifically, it does it for several beneficiaries in my own state. One of them, The Hospital Research Foundation, raises funds for world class health and medical research, itself an issue very close to my heart. Even better, it does it for the very hospital in which my mum underwent surgery.

Will it be easy? I don’t know. I’ve got football games, birthday parties and quiet winter nights in where I’d probably love a heart-warming glass of wine to get past. I also really love sailing with my good mate, The Captain. Easy? I am certain it will be a whole lot easier than what those with cancer, or those who know someone with cancer, go through. It’s a walk in the park compared to that. It shouldn’t be hard to go rum-free for a month.


That childhood wish still sits at the back of my mind. It’s not good enough for me to cut a cake and wish for immortality anymore. I want to make a difference in one of the few ways I know how — by putting money into research into better cancer treatment, better patient care and better experiences for those that have to contend with that great beast that cancer is. So, for every donor that puts money toward my campaign, I am going to put 0.50c into the campaign myself up to a maximum of $100.

Maybe you’ll feel the same! Maybe you’ll want to donate to keep my sobriety intact for a month. Maybe you’ll want to know how easily I get drunk on August 1st? Or maybe you know exactly how I feel when that insidious C word creeps into conversation. Maybe you want to make a difference too.

If so, please donate to my Dry July campaign. Every dollar counts and the more donors there are, the more I will throw in myself!

Original story on Jackson’s blog. Click here to view.

Why I signed up for Dry July

By Toni O’Sullivan

When I first heard of Dry July in 2011, I wasn’t sure I could do it. I found the prospect daunting. I guess I was typical of a lot of Aussies, in that I’d slipped into a pattern of regular drinking, which I didn’t consider a problem. Yet the thought of stopping was a challenge.


I had a pretty stressful and full-on job and after a long day at work I enjoyed having two or three glasses of wine to wind down and relax.

However, I’d reached a point where I wasn’t happy with the way I looked – I’d gained more weight than I realised and I knew that it was time to change things.    I saw Dry July as the opportunity to make some healthy lifestyle changes so I signed up! That was in 2011 and I’ve taken part each year since.

That first year, I immediately noticed that I felt better for being booze-free. I had more energy, I found it easier to get into doing some light exercise and also made better food choices. It’s so easy when you’re in the pub to start eating hot chips and burgers but doing Dry July, I stopped all that.

As a result, I dropped 5kg really quickly and easily. Since then I’ve lost about 16kg and I feel like a different person – I’m healthier and have managed to maintain some of those changes I made during my first Dry July.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a glass of wine during the rest of the year but now I look forward to July coming around. I know it’s a great opportunity to make those healthy changes, have a bit of a detox and a mid-year health check.

So I’ve signed up again this year and I’ve got my partner on the wagon with me so we’re supporting each other, which makes it much easier.

Last July we lost our friend Carl. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February 2013 and was gone so quickly. I always get so sad when I think of Carl not being with us any more, which is why I will always pledge my support for such a cause, and raise awareness however I can.

We’re raising funds for the Mater Foundation in Brisbane and so far this year have raised over $300. In previous years I’ve got more than $500 so I’m hoping to beat that this year. Proceeds from Dry July support adults living with cancer and help fund projects such as complementary therapy programs (including art, massage, and music therapies), fit-out and furnishings at dedicated patient accommodation facilities, new treatment chairs and electric lift beds and refurbishment of hospital cancer ward areas.

Knowing I’m raising funds for such a fantastic cause gives me the added motivation I need when things get tricky a couple of weeks into the challenge. A couple of weeks in it always feels like there’s still a long time to go but by then I’m also noticing the benefits so that spurs me on too.

You can donate to Toni’s Dry July here:

Shout Dry July from the rooftops!

Dry July ambassadors shout from the rooftops…literally!

Now that Wollongong Hospital’s $106 million redevelopment has reached its highest point, a group of dedicated ambassadors will soar to the top of building and shout their message from the rooftops ….all in the name of charity.

The volunteers are launching Wollongong Hospital’s 2014 Dry July campaign, which raises funds for the Illawarra Cancer Care Centre.
Dry July is simple; don’t drink alcohol for the month and get people to sponsor your efforts.

The Hospital’s General Manager, registered participant and ambassador, Nicole Sheppard, said it’s a fun way to challenge yourself while raising vital funds for adult cancer services.

“It’s the fourth time we’ve been chosen as a beneficiary of Dry July, every year it promotes a healthy rivalry amongst teams, family and friends. We hope this year will be our most successful, with the proceeds helping the Cancer Care Centre to further enhance patient services and make the cancer journey a little less daunting,” she said.

Former Miss World Australia, Katie Richardson has also taken up the challenge. The Wollongong Hospital Research Assistant is more than happy to go dry for the month.

“I studied nutrition so I’m very passionate about health and wellbeing. Dry July is not only an opportunity to raise money for a great cause; it also encourages everyone to think about their own lifestyle and alcohol consumption. I’m looking forward to my first Dry July” Katie said.

This year, funds raised during July will go toward cancer service enhancements including making patient treatment spaces more comfortable and enabling free WiFi for patients during treatment.

Director of Cancer Services and Dry July participant, Anthony Arnold, said previous campaigns have raised more than $270,000 which has seen significant enhancements to the care and comfort of patients receiving cancer treatment, and their families.