Bright future at Cancer Society

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The new team heading Ashburton Cancer Society are Mandy Wallace, left, Leona Taylor (with support dog Winnie), and Aimee Cosgrove.
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The Ashburton Cancer Society has a new team at the helm.

Cancer navigators Mandy Wallace and Leona Taylor, community engagement manager Aimee Cosgrove, and support dog Winnie, have all joined the team this year.

When three long-term staff members left it was an opportunity for the society to look at the future direction they wanted to take.

The role of the navigators ‘‘is to support clients and their whanau through the cancer journey, helping them with whatever they need,’’ Leona said.

Mandy has worked as a diversional therapist and case manager with CCS Disability Action. Leona has been a Nurse Maude district nurse for 30 years including time working in chemo dialysis.

Now they have a full team, ‘‘we can be open five days a week and are supported with volunteers on reception Wednesday to Friday,’’ Aimee said.

Someone is always at the rooms in Mona Square to welcome people, ‘‘the building provides a welcoming environment and a space we can offer a variety of services,’’ Aimee said.

Though she has only been in the role a short time Leona has already seen the value of their team of volunteers, ‘‘we are so lucky to have super amazing volunteers,’’ she said.

Part of the role of the navigators Leona said ‘‘will be to guide those who are seeking advice and letting them talk while we listen which will be very important.’’

The navigators will ‘‘provide quality information, assist clients and family to get into counselling, make referrals or suggest services to go to for anyone living with cancer,’’ Aimee said.

Mandy said ‘‘most people will know someone, a friend or family member who has had cancer and we are there to support everyone because those supporting the person with cancer can need support themselves.’’

People can self refer to the cancer society or general practitioners can make a referral. In her role Aimee will continue to work with medical practices educating staff on what their service provides.

Those with cancer or their friends and family ‘‘can call into our rooms or we can do a home visit,’’ Aimee said.

In a new role there is much to learn but Leona has already started building relationships and trust with clients, breaking down the barriers so she can ‘‘identify the needs, pick up the cues so I can help. It’s a privilege and marvellous job to be doing,’’she said.

She may have only been working at the cancer rooms for a few weeks but Mandy said ‘‘ I’m really enjoying it especially getting to know the clients and their families and we are fortunate to have a really supportive manager in Aimee.

‘‘It’s a privilege to be in this position, in fact it’s very humbling. I’m blown away by the supportiveness of this community.’’

The community does give not only financially to the cancer society and through the hours given by volunteers but through ‘‘donations of home backing, easy to freeze meals, veges for soups and these are always very welcome,’’ Aimee said.

As well as practical support ‘‘we have a library with numerous resources of books and pamphlets,’’ she said.

People can phone in or pop into the rooms anytime between 9am and 4pm Monday to Friday.

Winnie the dog is support dog. He provides a distraction for people going through cancer and is only to happy to receive hugs and pats. He quickly wins people hearts with his enthusiastic welcome.