JULY is a month that has so many things on.
For the sports lover there’s a plethora of things - State of Origin concludes, Wimbledon, Tour de France, rugby union tests and this year the Football World Cup.
It’s been huge.
Despite being the middle of winter, there's also usually heaps of social events on as well and who could forget Christmas in July?
All providing plenty of opportunities as one might say to “get on it”.
But spare a thought for those who are undertaking Dry July.
Shoalhaven and Illawarra cancer care centres are again taking part and will benefit from the national campaign, which urges Australians to have a month off alcohol to raise funds for patients.
Locally the Shoalhaven Cancer Care Centre again has a team taking part, hoping to better last year’s efforts of $17,500.
Not only does the effort raise money for the Shoalhaven and Illawarra centres, it also includes Shoalhaven District and Milton Hospitals, which now also provides chemotherapy treatment.
Co-director of Cancer Services across the region and proud Shoalhaven team captain Nicola Ryan admits Dry July is a “challenge”.
“But it’s one our local team is up for,” she said.
Seven Shoalhaven staff members are taking part in this year’s event, but Ms Ryan said anyone can nominate the Shoalhaven Cancer Care Centre as the beneficiary of their fundraising.
“They just have to nominate our centre,” she said.
“And that has certainly happened in the past and has helped us raise so much money. And that is not only used for our service but across the district.”
The Shoalhaven and Wollongong teams have previously combined their efforts but for the past couple of years have done separate fundraising, “getting some team spirit and competition going” between the two centres.
Ms Ryan admitted some staff members took a “little bit of persuasion” to take part in this year’s efforts.
“It’s obviously the middle of winter, you would think most people would be quite keen to go dry for the month,” she said.
“But July is a busy month and that raises challenges for people.”
She faces her own challenges, explaining she has had weekends away, annual leave, as well as her own birthday.
“It makes it tough but we are all doing it for a great cause,” she said.
“It is to raise money so we can enhance the cancer patients’ experiences, wherever they may be in their journey.
“That’s the most important thing.
“We keep thinking about what else we can do for patients.”
The fundraising efforts over the past few years have seen iPads with bluetooth speakers installed in the radiotherapy bunkers, allowing patients to have music played during their treatments.
“Treatment time can be quite an anxious and daunting experience,” Ms Ryan said “if we can make it more relaxing by having music, great.”
There has also been requests for a wider ranging variety of magazines, apart from the usual weeklies - covering topics such as cooking, gardening and travel, which has happened.
Skylights have also been installed in treatment areas, alleviating what some patients described as “stark and sterile environments.”
A number of vinyl wall landscapes have been installed around the centre, providing a stunning visual experience, more inviting than just a painted wall.
“This is not just about the cancer centre,” Ms Ryan said “we also look at ways we can improve things with Shoalhaven District Hospital and David Berry Hospital, home of the Karinya Centre - two places we certainly work very closely with.
“We are keen to explore opportunities to have more fabulous local scenery photographs installed as vinyl walls to enhance the environment.”
Another suggestion is for wayfinding kiosks at both Shoalhaven Hospital and the Cancer Centre to easily explain to patients where they have to go to see other specialists or access other services.
“We send out questionnaires to our patients and their families and to staff and management of the cancer centre and hospitals to see what sort of things we need to do to make the treatment experience better,” Ms Ryan said.
“We’ve had some wonderful feedback and suggestions and we have activated some of them.
“Our Dry July efforts also cover Milton Hospital and its chemotherapy unit.”
If you would like to support the Shoalhaven Cancer Team’s efforts which has so far raised more than $6500 go to www.dryjuly.com/beneficiaries/shoalhavencancercarecentre