Vic's mission – to stay dry for July

Valley Heights resident Vic Northcott has one last look at a bottle of wine before starting the Dry July challenge for Nepean Cancer Care Centre.

Valley Heights resident Vic Northcott has one last look at a bottle of wine before starting the Dry July challenge for Nepean Cancer Care Centre.

Vic Northcott had never heard of multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer of the plasma cells, until he was diagnosed with the disease three years ago.

Since then the Valley Heights resident has spent countless hours undergoing treatment and attending appointments at the Nepean Cancer Care Centre with his wife of 34 years, Gillian, by his side every step of the way.

Although the 62-year-old is still battling multiple myeloma, he is determined to help others who are facing the same situation by encouraging as many people as possible to get involved in not-for-profit-initiative, Dry July.

Dry July participants are sponsored to abstain from alcohol for the month of July with all money raised going to patient comfort items and equipment at the Nepean Cancer Care Centre.

Over the course of the last two years, fundraising efforts from Dry July at the Nepean Cancer Care Centre have totalled an impressive $349,824 which has gone toward purchasing patient items such as iPads, televisions, a reclining chair for patients undergoing stem-cell treatment, a stand-up walker for patients requiring physiotherapy, a brand new patient tranquility garden and renovated the waiting area.

"It's so important to feel as physically and mentally comfortable as possible during treatment because it helps to take your mind off the disease and the drugs you're taking," said Mr Northcott.

While he is now able to undertake most of his treatment at home and only needs to attend the Cancer Care Centre once every three months for follow-up appointments, Mr Northcott has great ideas for how a portion of this years' Dry July money could be spent.

"I'd love to see more reading material for men at the centre; I read during treatment because it's a distraction from what's going on around me," he said.

Mr Northcott's wife and carer, Gill, said the first year following diagnosis was the hardest and that anything that helped make her husband feel a little more comfortable during treatment was a godsend.

"I had to stop relying on Vic and take charge - there were a lot of important medical things that were difficult to face and it's times like this when the smallest things make the biggest difference," she said.

But it's attitudes of the centre's wonderful, dedicated staff that made the greatest difference.

The staff are so passionate about what they do that they undertake their own Dry July challenge to raise funds for their patients each year. Bullaburra resident, senior occupational therapist Dawn Hutley, is one of the staff members who is involved in the Dry July challenge to help improve the patient experience.

She said it has been rewarding to see the centre's patients benefit from the annual initiative.

"This is my third year doing Dry July and my second year coordinating Dry July for Nepean Cancer Care Centre. I love the enthusiasm and team work of everyone involved with supporting such a great charity. Dry July benefits all patients diagnosed with cancer and the money is distributed to the needs of the patients," said Ms Hutley.

This year, the Nepean Cancer Care Centre staff team - the Nepean Cancer Carers - are hoping to raise $200,000 to put towards additional patient comfort items. To help them reach their goal, visit www.dryjuly.com and type 'Nepean Cancer Care Centre' or 'Nepean Cancer Carers' into the search bar.

"I hope my story helps raise awareness of multiple myeloma and that it encourages people to get behind the cause... By doing something as small as abstaining from alcohol for 31 days, you're helping someone else who is going through a difficult time," said Mr Northcott.

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