In September 2016, 47-year-old Vanessa Eylward was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer which, as she puts it, was a ‘game changer'.
What followed was surgery, six months of chemotherapy, and six weeks of daily radiation - an intense period of treatment which she said was made easier after being put in touch with our support services at our new Dot's Place Cancer Support Centre in Peel.
Dot's Place Peel was officially opened by our President, Professor George Yeoh, in April and heralded an exciting day for everyone affected by cancer in the region.
In 2016, our support teams in the region delivered 870 different occasions of service, 332 complementary therapy sessions, and 233 trips to treatment.
Latest data from the WA Cancer Registry reveal 745 individuals were diagnosed with cancer in the Peel region in 2016 - a figure which is expected to significantly rise in the next 10 years.
Professor Yeoh said the Centre enables our staff and volunteers to offer clients a more holistic service under one roof.
"I know our Cancer Council staff and volunteers have always worked hard in this region to provide excellent support for people affected by cancer, but this new centre allows us to offer even more," Professor Yeoh said.
"This facility also reflects Cancer Council's commitment to ensuring that cancer patients, including those from outside the metropolitan area, have access to the care and support that they need during their cancer experience."
Staff at the centre offer reliable, evidence-based information to anyone affected by cancer as well as a range of practical support services including a free transport to treatment shuttle service and a peer support program.
"We know this centre will deliver benefits for clients in the region because the scientific evidence shows patients who have good support around them have better outcomes, meaning they better cope with the physical and emotional fallout from cancer, than those who don't," Professor Yeoh said.
Vanessa says she is testament to that, having used the complementary therapies on offer including reflexology, massage and reiki, as well as the free transport to treatment service which she said relieved both physical and financial pressure.
Most importantly, she said the centre has given her a sense of belonging.
"To me this is about community, this is about friendship, support and knowledge. It's about feeling normal and connected, and to me the new centre is very much about the growth of a service and engaging more people," she said.
"Ultimately it's about being supported and supporting others."
At the opening Professor Yeoh paid tribute to Dorothy and Allan Smith, our incredible supporters who've made the centre possible.
"All of those who have played a role in the establishment of this centre, either through your fundraising, donations to Cancer Council or contribution of time and effort, have made an enormous difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families," he said.
Vanessa said Dot's Place Peel has helped her and her family navigate their fears and gather their strengths.
"It's a place of understanding and comfort, empathy and warmth. I am thrilled to be part of it, supporting the growth of its services. It matters."
This story was featured in our 2016 - 2017 Annual Review. To read more about our achievements over the past year and the inspiring people that have helped us along the way check out Annual Review here.