As Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Council WA, this is the most important message I have ever written. Australia has entered into uncharted territory, and I am writing this in the most trying of circumstances given the economic downturn amid the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The unprecedented impact of these events is forcing me to make decisions never before seen in the history of Cancer Council WA. Decisions I never imagined I would have to make. These include what services and support we are able to continue to deliver to the community, now and into the future.
Regrettably, one of the decisions I have already had to make is to cancel or postpone all upcoming Cancer Council WA fundraising events, community education sessions and workshops.
This decision has not been made lightly, but we have a duty of care to the patients, supporters, volunteers, staff and others we are currently supporting - nothing is more important than the safety and wellbeing of all those we support and work with.
As the Coronavirus outbreak evolves, it is likely there will continue to be even more disruptions to how Cancer Council WA is able to fulfil our mission to support fellow West Australians who are impacted by cancer.
Despite what else is happening in the world, every day another 33 West Australians will hear the words "you have cancer". Cancer does not rest and neither do we.
Coronavirus is particularly dangerous for people with compromised immune systems, including cancer patients and survivors who have had their immune systems suppressed after treatment. At a time when the WA cancer community is most at risk, we need to ensure we can continue to provide vital support services.
But we are greatly concerned about our ability to do this in an environment where our fundraising income is significantly affected.
With the cancellation of our upcoming major fundraising events, we face the very real possibility of falling short in the funding we need for these critical cancer services, such as financial assistance and counselling, now and into the future.
If you're at all able to make an extra special donation today, it would go a long way to ensuring we can continue to provide our vital services to those who need it most during these unprecedented and uncertain times.
This is a challenging time for all of us, but especially so for some of our most vulnerable - the 87,000 West Australians directly impacted by cancer. With your support today, we will overcome this current crisis and together, we will continue towards our vision of a cancer free future.
During this unprecedented time, my team have been reaching out to those who need our help and one of our clients, Drayton Morley, a father of two from Willagee, outlines his concerns in this note. I wanted to share this to show you the critical part community support has played in helping Drayton and others like him.
You can be certain - regardless of the circumstances - that every minute, every hour, every day, Cancer Council WA will strive to be there for those impacted by cancer.
PS. We have developed a web page that provides information on COVID-19 and cancer, you can find this information here.
If you are impacted by cancer and have concerns, questions or would just like to speak with someone, our cancer nurses are here for you. Please call us on 13 11 20 during business hours.