Mater cancer patients benefit from community kindness

Wednesday 26 June 2024

The generosity of Mater supporters across Queensland is helping to transform healthcare for patients at Mater Cancer Care Centre at South Brisbane.

Almost $1 million of cutting-edge medical equipment is being delivered to the centre this year thanks to community donations to Mater Foundation.

The equipment includes a scalp cooling system to help alternative hair loss in cancer patients having chemotherapy treatment.

Mater Clinical Nurse Consultant Ash Mondolo said the scalp cooler enabled a higher level of hair retention, and even complete preservation in some cases.

She said this could improve the self-confidence and attitude of patients during their cancer journey.

South Brisbane’s Caitriona Bennett was 30 years old when she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in May last year.

Dr Bennett underwent five months of intensive chemotherapy and had surgery to remove 25 lymph nodes.

Her breast cancer journey has also involved a mastectomy, radiation treatment and reconstruction surgery at Mater Private Hospital Brisbane last month.

Now 31, Dr Bennett said the new scalp cooling treatment at the Mater Cancer Care Centre ‘gave me back my dignity’.

“While I knew I would still lose some of my hair, it wasn’t as much as some other patients which can be confronting,” she said.

“The regrowth of my hair has been really amazing – I take photos weekly to see the progress.”

On Wednesday June 26 the cancer care centre will be asking the community to show their support again on Mater Giving Day – when all donations to Mater Foundation will be tripled by matched donors.

Mater Foundation says its next fundraising priority for the Mater Cancer Care Centre will be for a Tivato 700 microscope to improve care and outcomes for breast cancer reconstruction surgery patients.

The 'smart’ microscope has advanced optics and functions, providing surgeons with unprecedented image clarity, enhancing surgical and patient outcomes.

Mater Private Hospital General Manager Jennifer Pitt said equipment funded by community donations would make a major difference to healthcare in Brisbane.

“Medical technology is constantly evolving and it’s so important for our patients that we can bring that technology into our hospitals,” Ms Pitt said.

“Our doctors and medical teams play a key role in choosing which devices and systems are purchased to ensure every dollar donated delivers the maximum benefit for our patients. 

“Whether it’s delivering life-saving surgery for breast cancer patients or life-changing equipment for those during their cancer journey, this technology will make a positive impact on the health of our community.”

The new community-funded devices for the Mater Cancer Care Centre include a:

Illumina Genome Sequencer, providing improvements in cancer detection and the ability to target therapies for better results;

Faxitron Trident HD radiography system, which provides breast cancer surgeons with high-quality x-rays in-theatre, ensuring greater certainty that cancerous tissue is being removed and reducing the need for secondary procedures;

Mater Research study into how dendritic cells can trigger an immune response in a range of tumours, led by Professor Kristen Radford. This is an expansion of her work to develop an ovarian cancer vaccine used to treat active cases of ovarian cancer and not as a preventative tool.  The vaccine will target ‘dendritic’ cells, which play a key role in the body’s immune system.

Mater Foundation Chief Executive Andrew Thomas said the new equipment at the Mater Cancer Care Centre in South Brisbane was a great example of community fund-raising leading to improved patient care for the community.

“Mater Giving Day – Wednesday 26 June – is the day the community can give to make good things happen,” Mr Thomas said.

“This special day unites Mater staff, patients, loved ones and supporters with gratitude to help deliver life-saving medical equipment, research, education and healthcare.

“After Giving Day 2024, we’re hoping we can provide more state-of-the-art equipment to support patients through their cancer journey at Mater Cancer Care Centre.”

“The great news this year is that Mater’s generous Matched Givers have pledged to triple every single dollar raised by the community in Brisbane and across Queensland – so the impact of community fundraising will make a truly incredible difference to Mater patients.”

Donations can be made online at up until June 26.

Feature image: Caitriona Bennett was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer last year and is urging the community to get behind Mater Giving Day on Wednesday.