Cancer Wellness Support Op Shops go online to continue funding cancer therapies

Blue Mountains residents are being encouraged to shop online with their local Cancer Wellness Support Op Shop to ensure vital therapies for cancer patients can continue post-lockdown.

Cancer Wellness Support is a charity serving the Blue Mountains and Penrith Valley regions. The organisation is primarily funded by two well-loved op shops in Penrith and Katoomba and greatly relies upon the generosity of the local community.

From left to right: Carol Black, Shelly Fitzpatrick, Gail Searle and Maria McLean, staff members of Penrith's Cancer Wellness Op Shop.

From left to right: Carol Black, Shelly Fitzpatrick, Gail Searle and Maria McLean, staff members of Penrith's Cancer Wellness Op Shop.

When COVID-19 hit in March last year, the Cancer Wellness Support Op Shops in Penrith and Katoomba had to close their doors to the community, which in turn, turned off the steady flow of funding. The staff quickly thought of a new solution - an online op shop. It's a decision that's now paying off, especially with the current lockdown forcing them to shut their doors once more.

Penrith Cancer Wellness Support Op Shop manager Gail Searle said the online experience has been "getting even better" since they launched in April 2020.

"We're well prepared for the lockdown this time," Mrs Searle said. "We have further streamlined the process and even added national shipping. We also provide COVID-Safe 'click and collect' from both of our op shops and parcel postage.

"Our online op shop is for anyone looking for a bargain, a vintage treasure or collector's item. We currently have a 15 percent sale on everything so now it's a great time to shop and give back to the community. There are over 700 unique products to browse and better still, every $30 spent will fund a cancer patient's therapy."

Cancer Wellness Support service operates from the Penrith Valley Centre in Warwick Street and the Robyn Yates Centre, named after the organisation's founder, in Leura. With more than 45 fully trained therapists, Cancer Wellness Support provides a large range of generously subsidised therapies such as massage, lymphoedema management, reflexology, art therapy, reiki, meditation as well as facilitated support groups for client members and their families/carers.

Cancer Wellness Support Client Services manager Viv Maitland said although the most recent lockdown has restricted the services they offer, they have been able to continue other therapies online.

"You become very isolated during the treatment stage of cancer and most of your time is taken up with medical appointments," Ms Maitland said. "Our therapies provide a community for people. Clients have been able to continue counselling and group sessions via Zoom. We keep in contact through e-newsletters and our therapists will email, text or call clients on a weekly basis to see how they're going. It's about holding them close and giving them hope.

"Without affordable, subsidised therapies a lot of people wouldn't be able to access services that provide relief from the side effects of their treatment. There's nowhere else in New South Wales that offers this program or approach to providing affordable cancer therapies. It just doesn't exist.

"Without the op shops of course, we couldn't do anything. The online shop will play an important role in comfortably taking us out of the pandemic and helping us to continue providing essential therapies in the years to come."

Visit the online Cancer Wellness Support Op Shop at www.opshop.cancersupport.org.au or follow online on Instagram and Facebook @cancerwellnesssupport. If you would like to inquire about Cancer Wellness Support's therapies and services, phone 4784 2297 or visit www.cancersupport.org.au.