STRONGER TOGETHER: Have the Ovarian Cancer conversation

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Last updated:
05/02/2021

By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director

"STRONGER TOGETHER" IS A WEEKLY COLUMN WHERE TANYA EXPLORES KEY ISSUES. TODAY TANYA TALKS ABOUT THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF OVARIAN CANCER.

Many of us strive to live a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes unexpected health implications can throw a spin on day-to-day life.

That’s why being in tune with your body and completing regular health checks is so important.

STRONGER TOGETHER: Have the Ovarian Cancer conversationEach year in Australia over 1500 women will be diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer.

Over 1000 will die.

Only 46% of women diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer will meet the 5-year survival rate.

February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month which provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the most underfunded and deadliest female cancer in Australia.

Awareness of this form of cancer is vitally important as there is no early detection test.

Commonly women may feel increased abdominal size or persistent bloating, lower tummy pain, feeling full after eating small amounts and needing to pass fluids often or urgently.

Some women may also experience changes in bowel habits, unexplained weight changes, excessive fatigue, indigestion, nausea, or irregular bleeding.

STRONGER TOGETHER: Building more resilient job seekers

Often these symptoms can indicate other less serious medical conditions, however if these symptoms are persistent, a doctor should be consulted.

It’s a good idea to track any symptoms you are experiencing as they can be discussed with a doctor in need.

If, however, you remain concerned about your symptoms you should always seek a second opinion.

As a woman it is important to trust your instincts and listen to your body.

The risk of developing Ovarian Cancer increases with a family history of Ovarian, Breast or Bowel Cancer, mutant genes, Lynch Syndrome and endometriosis, so knowledge of not only your own history but that of your family is also important. 

Increasing age, use of Hormone replacement Therapy, tobacco smoking and obesity also increase a woman’s risk of developing Ovarian Cancer.

Our IMPACT Community Health Services in Agnes Water provides visiting Women’s Health services to the Discovery Coast Region.

Everyone experiences a health concern at one point or another, and it’s important that we normalise the discussion of it.

Start the conversation today – it could save a life.

For more information on Women’s Health services in the Discovery Coast, or to make an appointment, I encourage women to call our friendly staff on 07) 4902 2000.

Learn more about IMPACT's Community Health Service

As restrictions start to ease, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the coronavirus crisis is over.

But while COVID-19 infection rates in the Bundaberg region remain low, there is a large portion of the population struggling.

IMPACT Community Services has been given a grant by the Queensland Government to establish a six-month community recovery program called COVID Connect.

This will help struggling residents cope with the after-effects of the coronavirus lock-down and ongoing changes.

COVID Connect will include services such as welfare checks and monitoring for people at risk, mental health support, facilitation of access to support services, delivery of education/activity kits to families in isolation and assistance to people facing eviction or homelessness due to COVID-19.

The service extends to vulnerable people in the Bundaberg region, including Bundaberg, Childers, Gin Gin and the Discovery Coast.

IMPACT's Manager of Support Services Sandra Higgins said there were still many vulnerable members of the community who needed vital assistance.

“There are lots of people in the community who won't bounce back immediately,” Ms Higgins said.

“There are those who can't hit the ground running or whose circumstances are compounding the effects of the COVID-19 restrictions. And we're here to help anyone who asks.”

People at potentially higher risk include those who are rurally isolated, single parents with children who have lost their support network, and the elderly stuck at home.

“The elderly are particularly disadvantaged during these restrictions,” Ms Higgins said.

“We can teach them how to do online groceries, how to do navigate telehealth, or how to do Skype calls with their family.

“Some don't have smart phones so we can actually provide them with a device to contact the outside world, which for some must seem a long way away.”

Even before the start of COVID Connect, IMPACT was assisting those who lived where deliveries did not reach. The team assisted a couple who were self-isolating out at Delan. When the supermarkets couldn't home-deliver their groceries, support worker Sharmaine Gernhoefer drove the 40 minutes to their home to make sure they got what they needed. Now they have the ability to assist many more.

The COVID Connect model is deliberately flexible to be able to cater to the varying circumstances of each client but services will also include:

Where applicable, IMPACT support workers can also assist clients to develop a strengths-based plan, self-care plan and an emergency plan.

And because of  IMPACT’s wraparound service model, participants will have access to their specialist staff, such as DV support workers, mental health support and other peer workers.

And on a more practical level, IMPACT operates a commercial laundry and is able to assist with domestic laundering and bulky items such as doonas.

“Often the vulnerable among us, no matter what their circumstances, just need reassurance,” Ms Higgins said.

“They need to know that other people are in the same boat, and that this will all end at some point. And that's what we're here for.”

If you need support call 4153 4233.

Ever heard the saying –

“Sanity takes on a whole new meaning with adequate sleep?”

Sleep is something we all need.

It is as essential for our survival as food and water, yet we are often neglectful of it. 

Do you have noisy neighbours, partying until dawn?

Is the sound of the ocean and the fresh clean air

of the Discovery Coast too much for you to bear at night?

The wisdom of Wednesday 27 May 2020

According to the book “Relax and Win: Championship Performance”, by Sharon Ackerman, the United States Navy Pre-Flight School created a routine to help pilots to fall asleep in less than 2 minutes. The technique is underpinned by breathing and progressive muscle relaxation exercises and suggests that it could take pilots up to six weeks of practice to get it right, but it worked, reportedly even with the sound of gunfire in the background, and also when pilots were in the sitting position ….

Interested?????

Well the Military Method may work for you:

Routine Instructions:

Give it a try, see if it works for you and tune in over the next few Wednesdays to learn more about the breathing techniques and progressive muscle relaxation exercises that underpin the routine above.

Let us know any tips tricks or strategies that work for you.

Sleep well and sweet dreams.

The wisdom of Wednesday 27 May 2020

The IMPACT Community Health Service staff have been running the popular weekly 'Up and Active' classes in each of their Discovery Coast communities. But as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, those group activities have been put on hold.

'Up and Active' was an exercise program aimed at 50s and over for people in the Discovery Coast region. It consisted of low- to medium intensity exercise for strength and balance and cardio for health. It was also a great opportunity for social contact.

When the coronavirus restrictions came into play the classes had to be suspended and the team had to come up with something that would fill the gap.

And that's where 'Engage in U' was born. 'Engage in U' is a way to distribute information to get people moving and to stay healthy while we are all in lock-down.

It contains exercise info and suggestions, but also dietary and nutritional advice, like leftover recipes and how to get the best out of what's in your fridge.

And that is right in 'Engage in U's' dietitian Marina Chang's wheelhouse.

“It's all about education and encouragement,” Marina said. “Getting people to improve their wellbeing through their diet.”

The program is for people of all ages, for those with health conditions or people who just want some great options to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

“Our strategy is to help them understand it is easier than they think and to give them all the necessary info they need,” Marina said. “To turn the facts into changes that will have the most impact.”

Marina's two top tips for switching to a healthier diet are:
• eat more vegetables
• ditch the processed food

Part of Marina's approach is finding out where you shop and what food is available to you: finding the best place for you to source the best food, and then looking for the best choice.

“And then the trick is making all these changes practical and including them into your daily routine,” Marina said. “And this will be different for each person so we individualise the advice and recommendations. It must be applicable to you.”

Marina will help you modify recipes where that is needed, how to make serving more effective and delicious and even how to change the visuals of the dish on the plate.

And to get your taste buds in gear, here is a great recipe from Marina's recent 'Cooking on a Budget' workshop.

Tex-Mex Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Marina shares recipe to a healthier you through COVID-19

Ingredients:

Sweet potatoes cooked and halved

Olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

500gm mince beef

1 tsp coriander

2 tsp cumin

1-2 tsp smoked paprika

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Black pepper, chilli powder if desired

Grated cheese

Method:

· Precook sweet potatoes in oven or microwave

· Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh. Set aside flesh

· Bake sweet potato skins in oven 10-15mins or until crisp

· Saute chopped onions and garlic in a pan with little olive oil until softened

· Add spices and stir or 1 min

· Add mince and stir until browned, add black pepper

· Add tomatoes and kidney beans

· Simmer, uncovered, until meat cooked.

· Mix through sweet potato flesh.

· Scoop mixture into sweet potato skins and top with grated cheese

Nachos

Marina shares recipe to a healthier you through COVID-19

Ingredients:

Wholemeal pita or Lebanese bread

Tex Mex mince mixture

Tomato, chopped

Grated Cheese

1 avocado and ½ cup greek yoghurt, mashed together

Spring onion

Method:

· Cut or break pita bread into triangle shapes and place on oven tray

· Cook in oven 10 mins at 180 degrees C or until crisp

· Arrange pita crisps on plate

· Top with tex mex mince, grated cheese, tomato and avocado mix

· Garnish with chopped spring onions.

Engage in U is available to residents on the Discovery Coast. For more information call IMPACT Community Health Service on 4902 2000.

IMPACT Community Health Service has been running solid this past month delivering the 2020 FLUVAX Clinic across the Discovery Coast, visiting each of the communities in the region.

Having locally-based clinics on the Coast has enabled older residents to access the clinic in their own community and as a result of COVID-19, there has been an increase in numbers.

IMPACT’s Nurse Immuniser and Child Health Nurse Pip Burton administered 355 vaccinations across six towns over 16 days.

“It's been a good response and great for these communities,” Pip said.

Pip has been running this clinic for more than 10 years.

She said they started early this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"A lot of people are concerned about COVID-19 and its effect on the community," Pip said.

“For a lot of these regional clients and their families, the social isolation is not new for them, as they are already a long way from towns.

“But they are grateful for our regional clinics as they would normally have had to travel to Bundaberg or Gladstone to get their Fluvax.”

Pip sees lots of regulars returning year after year.

She said more people were asking about the Pneumovax, perhaps because of the influence of coronavirus and how it could lead to pneumonia.

Pip and her team have had to adapt how they administer the vaccinations to conform to all the necessary precautions and accommodate social distancing.

The health service runs the clinics annually and usually winds the vaccinations up in June or July.

This year though they will provide the service as long as people keep asking about it to ensure they help protect “all the stragglers”.

Our free FLUVAX is available to:

Along with Fluvax, Pip can vaccinate for Pneumovax, Zostavax and Childhood Immunisations.

For more information or to book an appointment call 4902 2000.

Usually IMPACT Community Health Services’ clients are used to seeing Fiona Glover running the popular Up and Active classes held weekly in the townships of the Discovery Coast.

As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, unfortunately those group activities are on a temporary hiatus.

But while Fiona has spent recent weeks busily helping support our 2020 FLUVAX Clinic, where she has been undertaking pre-screening prior to clinic attendance; she has also been working on a new web-based program for her Up and Active participants.

Don't get lazy in lockdown: New health initiative on its way

“Engage in U” is set to be rolled out in coming days.

This new health-focused initiative will see Fiona team up with IMPACT's dietician Marina Chang as they share their engaging take on how people can remain healthy even in lockdown.

Those who know Fiona appreciate she is a powerhouse of fun and fitness.

She believes that now it is more important than ever to look after ourselves.

“Our aim is to get people moving,” Fiona said. “We've become soft and lazy in these lockdowns!”

'Up and Active' is an exercise program aimed at 50s and over for people in the Discovery Coast region. It consisted of low- to medium intensity exercise for strength and balance and cardio for health. It was also a great opportunity for social contact.

“But when the coronavirus restrictions came into play we had to suspend the classes and try to come up with something that would fill the gap,” Fiona said.

And that's where 'Engage in U' was born.

"'Engage in U' is a way to distribute information to get people moving and to stay healthy while we are all in lock-down,” Fiona said.

“There will be exercise info and suggestions, dietary and nutritional advice, like leftover recipes and how to get the best out of what's in your fridge.”

There will be some good links to exercise videos, with most of the fitness content generated by Fiona.

“It's for everybody, but it's also a good way to keep in touch with all our 'Up and Active' clients,” said Fiona.

“I've been in contact with 25 to 30 of them just today and they are all missing the engagement with each other and the exercise.”

'Engage in U' will be shared on the IMPACT Community Health Service – Discovery Coast's Facebook page and also the IMPACT Community Services page.

We are confident that when the restrictions are eased, 'Up and Active' will be up and running again. But in the meantime, we encourage everyone to 'Engage in U'!

For more information about IMPACT Community Health Services call 4902 2000.
By Emma Krampera
IMPACT Community Health Service - Community Access Nurse (currently on maternity leave)

As the Community Access Nurse, I went on maternity leave from IMPACT Community Health Service at the beginning of March … a good couple of weeks before my due date.

I tossed up continuing work for a little longer but my OCD self, got the better of me and I decided I would use the time to "get ready"; all those last-minute things to make everything perfect before our first born arrived.

How IMPACT nurse is coping with COVID-19 after having first baby

Plus, I was tired, and I had been given so much advice to take it easy and have some time for myself before my whole world changed.

My mum was due to join us from Brisbane the following week to "wait it out", as well as my partner Nick, who was still working.  We have no family nearby.

Maybe the beautiful life that was inside me knew something about what was to come because at that stage there were no restrictions, just caution. Our little girl decided to arrive two weeks early. That was two weeks before I had everything together, but, also before I would have felt unsafe delivering in a hospital, before visitors were not allowed, and just before restrictions were introduced.

We were lucky that my mum had come up before it was too late, but to this day Frankie (who is now nearly two months old) has still not met her aunties and uncles and cousins.

This pandemic has given a whole new spin on the "baby bubble" that occurs with a newborn. It seems bittersweet - how lucky we are to be able to remain protected and to protect our precious little girl, yet I can’t help but feel sad that Nick and I cannot share any of it with our families.

Being a nurse and knowing that isolation is a great risk factor for postpartum depression, this pandemic has the ability to wreak havoc on the already hormone-induced emotional anxiety that comes with being a new mother.

So far we have been to the doctor once (through the back door after waiting in the car until it was our turn), and more recently to my workplace, IMPACT Community Health Service (after airborne screening and strict infection control) to see our Child Health Nurse, Pip.

Thank goodness we have this service right at our doorstep.

I don’t know how I would feel having to go all the way to the next major centre for a "well" baby check!

We were lucky also that in the first few weeks, we were able to be home visited by IMPACT Community Health Service (with social distancing in place) for a weight check and general well-being check-in. How important this was ... not only for Frankie’s growth and development, but for my sanity too!

IMPACT Community Health Service has provided us with exactly what we needed as new baby and mum, right where we needed it (in our home community).

On top of this, the support that we have received as an employee on maternity leave from our "work family" has been amazing and so comforting.

Thank you for letting me share our story.

IMPACT Community Health Service provides health services for residents in the Discovery Coast region.

Michael Ferry is in the perfect environment for working from home – a 10-acre property in the Bundaberg region.

With two houses on the property, Michael is able to use one of them as his office-away-from-the-office.

Michael is one of IMPACT Community Services’ Intensive Family Service case managers.

And like many of his colleagues, he’s having to adapt to a changing workplace because of COVID-19.

However, while the world around him changes at a frenetic pace, Michael’s focus remains on delivering a crucial support that helps so many vulnerable people across the region.

Michael said he and his wife, who works as an emergency department nurse, share the child-minding responsibilities.

When she is at work he steps up and looks after the kids, while at the same time managing this with his responsibilities to the families he supports.

Being flexible is the key.

“The children are old enough to know that when Dad is talking on the phone, then they have to behave,” Michael said.

“I've managed to keep in contact with all my clients and even have a few new ones. Our initial contact to them is mostly via phone, so it's not a big adjustment.”

Very soon, he'll have to combine the two roles of dad and teacher.

“I think we'll do okay,” Michael said.

“We plan to have them do a lot of hard-copy work. And also learn a few skills so they can help out around the property, doing yard-work and maybe some repairs.”

IMPACT’s Managing Director Tanya O’Shea praised the efforts of the large number of staff working from home.

Ms O’Shea said the organisation understood that work wasn't the only thing happening in the lives of staff at the moment.

“These are uniquely difficult and different times,” Ms O’Shea said.

“Everyone is impacted by COVID-19, however, each of us will be impacted in different ways.

“Some people have young children, some don’t. Some have medical issues, some staff live alone, some are in shared accommodation while others live with family or friends.

“We are fully supporting our staff to explore solutions that work for them.”

This is the first in a series of pieces on IMPACT staff and how they’re adapting to the changing times brought on by COVID-19.  Our inspiring staff remain as committed as ever to the delivery of vital services and programs that enable people in the Bundaberg region to Live, Grow and Prosper.

IMPACT Community Health Services has farewelled popular nurse Emma Krampera.

Ms Krampera, who is heading off to have a baby, will be replaced by Rosemary Ford.

Emma was the service’s first Community Access Nurse, which is a vital role for the Discovery Coast community.

While there has been a Community Nurse in Agnes Water for many years, IMPACT expanded the service at the start of the financial year to include a Community Access Nurse after identifying a gap in the health journey for many people.

Rosemary takes on key nursing role for Discovery Coast community

IMPACT Community Health Services Practice Manager Pam Mackie said the role was crucial in ensuring people received appropriate access to health care.

“Our aim is to support a person on their health journey, whether that be discharge from hospital, accessing My Aged Care or engaging support to rehabilitate at home,” Ms Mackie said.

“This is where the Community Access Nurse comes in.”

She said the level of support provided was reliant on a close working relationship between hospital staff, other health providers and the community nurse.

This new approach aims to formalise processes to ensure clients receive appropriate referral and support.

Other patient benefits from having a Community Access Nurse include:

• Supporting health literacy and individual ownership of health care.
• The coordination of health appointments to reduce the burden of travel on both the client and the health service.
• Exploring telehealth options for follow-up care.
• Navigating key services such as My Aged Care, which is the starting point to access aged care services, and the NDIS, which helps people living with a disability.

“We want to support our communities to be able to better access health services,” Ms Mackie said.

She acknowledged the outstanding work that Emma had done in the development of the role and was confident Rosemary would continue the good work.

IMPACT Community Health Service’s primary clinic is situated at 2 Rafting Ground Road, Agnes Water, where a range of clinical and allied health appointments and programs are held. The service also has a variety of outreach clinics at:
• Miriam Vale – OzCare Building, Roe Street
• Turkey Beach – Community Centre
• Baffle Creek – Sport and Rec Ground
• Lowmead Hall
• Rosedale Hall

For more information call 4902 2000.

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