Dry July funds aiding cancer centre’s work
A young woman recovering from a rare form of ovarian cancer is rallying her friends to raise money to help people ‘‘going through hell’’.
Caitlin FinneganRamanui, 20, was in London on her OE when she was rushed into emergency surgery where her right ovary was removed following the discovery of a germ cell tumour.
‘‘At the time they didn’t know it was cancerous,’’ she says.
‘‘But to be honest I already had a feeling that it was cancer, so I wasn’t that shocked. I knew something wasn’t right.’’
Germ cell carcinoma tumours make up about five per cent of ovarian cancer cases and tend to be found in women in their early 20s.
Facing the prospect of nine weeks of intensive chemotherapy Miss FinneganRamanui decided to return to New Zealand.
‘‘It’s quite a heavy regime that I had to go through so I wanted the support of my friends and family,’’ the Mt Albert resident says.
She has finished but says recovering left her feeling tired and frustrated.
Physical changes have also taken their toll – she has gained weight because of the drugs and all her hair has fallen out.
But during the challenges of her treatment she says the new chemotherapy chairs installed in Auckland City Hospital were a significant help.
‘‘It meant I wasn’t stuck in a hospital bed all day, which is a small thing but it means a lot. When you are stuck in a bed you feel down, you feel like you are really sick.’’
The chairs have the ability to change positions so patients can be more comfortable.
The hospital’s Northern Regional Cancer and Blood Service centre was able to buy 30 of the chairs thanks to money raised in last year’s Dry July event in which people were sponsored to go alcohol-free for the month.
The 2012 event raised in excess of $550,000 for the centre which treats cancer patients from all over the upper North Island.
The money also saw the centre get wifi, 70 new TVs and a garden renovation.
Clinical director for the centre Richard Sullivan says they were totally blown away by the generosity last year.
‘‘It quickly became a social movement with its own momentum – and while the cause was serious, the challenge itself was fun and generated great camaraderie among the participants,’’ he says.
Dr Sullivan says the centre has more than 350 patients through its doors each day and every dollar raised during Dry July helps those people.
This year they want to enhance the appearance of the linear accelerator suites, upgrade cancer treatment and waiting rooms and create a wellness centre for bone marrow transplant patients.
Miss Finnegan-Ramanui says Dry July is a small sacrifice for her, but she has recruited at least eight friends who work in hospitality who might find it a tad more difficult.
‘‘Without going to the hospital it’s hard to know that people are going through hell up there,’’ she says. ‘‘Doing Dry July is one way you can show support.’’
Cheers!: Dr Richard Sullivan and Caitlin Finnegan-Ramanui with one of the 30 chemotherapy chairs Auckland City Hospital could purchase with money raised from Dry July last year.