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08 Oct 2015

It's about us launch at the San

A free online digital scrapbook for all cancer patients and others touched by cancer has been launched during a presentation in the San’s Integrated Cancer Centre Healing Garden.

Master of Ceremonies was award winning actress Sonia Todd and 2015 ‘The Voice’ winner Ellie Drennan (and daughter of San Nursing Unit Manager Anissa Drennan) whose lives have both been touched by cancer.

“ I was very proud to have breastfed Avia until she was almost 16 months old...but a little after I stopped I noticed that I had a hard mass in my left breast that I assumed was related to stopping feeding...

So begins the honest, compelling, and at times heart-wrenching book written by young mother Marisa for her 4 year-old daughter, Avia after Marisa’s diagnosis with aggressive breast cancer in 2013, aged 27.

Marisa was able to write and print the book Letters for Avia – What I want my daughter to know via a digital, template style scrapbook thanks to a unique support tool called it’s about us, which has been funded by the San Foundation of Sydney Adventist Hospital (known as the San).

The online scrapbook is freely available to all people and families affected by cancer, and provides them with the opportunity to express themselves either as a cathartic exercise and a personal memoir, or to leave as a lasting legacy for their family. It’s about us has been designed as a template style, digital scrapbook with prompts and thought starters which make writing and journaling that much easier. It provides the inspiration and ability to capture people’s memories, emotions, thoughts and feelings, through text and photos, all within a supportive framework

The it’s about us project is the vision of San Head of Cancer Services, Associate Professor Gavin Marx, his wife, Jo Marx and friend, Desray Maltz. “We were inspired by my many patients’ courage, wisdom, insights and clarity of what is truly important and meaningful in their lives. it’s about us provides a valuable instrument for communication and connection between patients and their families,” says Dr Marx.

The San Foundation provided the necessary funds to help build the ‘it’s about us’ concept. The project is supported by Momento Photo Books, Cancer Council NSW, BCNA, breast care navigators, clinical psychologists and grief and bereavement counsellors.

For Marisa, writing the book about her diagnosis, treatment, childhood memories, milestones, her relationships with friends, family and her husband, and her love for her daughter Avia, was a therapeutic and special experience.

“... the 2 cm spot of cancer in my lung is just that... 2 cm’s of my entire body... it doesn’t define who I am or what my life is about.”

In the final words in the book for Avia, Marisa says:

“You were a miracle….You are and always will be the purest source of joy to me. I know you will miss me when I am gone, and I hope you will remember me. I also hope that I have given you enough, enough of me, enough love, enough memories, stories and things, that you can still feel me with you. … that you can think of me happily and remember who I was, rather than think of me in sadness and regret and that I am not with you.”

Co-founders of the digital scrapbook Associate Professor Gavin Marx, strategic planner Jo Marx, primary school teacher Desray Maltz were amongst the 120 plus attendees who joined Matt Kean MP – State Member for Hornsby, Hornsby Mayor Steve Russell and Ku-ring-gai Councillor David Citer (representing Ku-ring-gai Council and new Mayor Cheryl Szatow) at the launch.

Click here to view a video that provides some insight into how life changing for cancer patients and their families this opportunity is for them to capture/record/express/document their life stories/share the impact of treatments/leave messages.

Click here to watch Sonia Todd talk about it's about us on The Daily Edition.

For more information visit www.itsaboutus.com.au

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