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Strength in numbers

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Strength in numbers

A head and neck cancer support group links survivors with patients, raising awareness and funds for those in battle.

The simple ability to breathe, eat and speak were taken away in the blink of an eye for a Mooloolaba grandmother as she battled a rare form of cancer.

Carol Adams was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2019 and endured a gruelling 36 rounds of radiation before achieving remission in 2020.

Her journey planted the seed for a support group dedicated to those grappling with the challenges of head and neck cancer.

The Sunshine Head and Neck Cancer Support Group was established in mid-2021 to offer support, raise awareness and gather resources to better the lives of those navigating a diagnosis.

“I have visited every dentist and doctor clinic on the Sunshine Coast to spread awareness through brochures – seeing them displayed brings me incredible joy,” Ms Adams says.

“My aim with the support group is to not only offer support to those affected by head and neck cancer but to reach people before they get to the point of needing treatment.”

The group meets for coffee regularly and also fundraises. It has so far raised $34,000, which has provided laser machines, discounted lymphedema massages, care packages and 50 nights of Wishlist accommodation for patients and families.

Chris Fletcher, a 35-year throat cancer warrior, and his wife Christine, jumped at the opportunity to be part of the group to share what they have learned throughout their journey.

“After nearly 15 years enjoying a carefree life, the big C decided to come back in 2016,” Mr Fletcher says.

He had surgery to remove the tumour, however complications after surgery resulted in him losing the ability to eat or drink.

Now relying on a PEG tube, he explains the hardships of feeling often misunderstood or judged for needing to bring his own pureed food to public venues.

“It doesn’t stop us though: we do what we can, go out when we can,” Ms Fletcher says.

“I am a cheap date,” Mr Fletcher adds jokingly.

Nominations open for Coast Community Awards

Nominations are now open to celebrate individual and group in the community that embody what it means to work and live on the Sunshine Coast.

The Sunshine Coast Biosphere – Community Awards, formerly the Sunshine Coast Australia Day Awards, will again honour those who lead the way with an emphasis in 2024 on sustainable values.

“The awards celebrate the achievement and contribution of everyday individuals and community organisations and present real community examples of sustainability efforts and action in the community,” Sunshine Coast Council Environment Portfolio Councillor Maria Suarez says.

“In a domino effect, the stories of each nominee will no doubt inspire others to make positive contributions in the community.”

Categories are citizen, young citizen and senior citizen of the year; community group or organisation, creative arts and healthy people awards; healthy planet and biosphere business of the year.

Entries close April 30, 2024 at sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/communityawards.

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