The World’s Greatest Shave is upon us this week with Shave Week commencing from March 11th through to March 15th!
The World’s Greatest Shave is a fundraising event to raise money for people affected by blood cancer. It is run by the Leukemia Foundation whose primary goal is to have zero lives lost to blood cancer by 2035! This is the 22nd year that this well-loved fundraising event has occurred – with 37,500kg of hair estimated to have been removed!
If you are participating in the World’s Greatest Shave this year one way to boost your fundraising is to auction off the right to shave or colour your hair to the highest bidder! The World’s Greatest Shave has many other suggestions on their website about how you can fundraise for this cause.
Proceeds from fundraising provide practical and emotional support services to families undertaking treatment for blood cancer. Practical and emotional support services are provided by Blood Cancer Support Co-ordinators.
Practical support services include:
- the provision of free or subsidised accommodation to families who live in regional, rural or remote areas of Australia;
- accessing free or subsidised transport to and from medical appointments and treatment facilities;
- financial assistance such as accessing income protection or early superannuation payments, advocacy for no gap medical charges and reductions in school and childcare fees;
- reviewing eligibility of relevant and applicable Centrelink payments as well as help handling Centrelink applications;
- connecting with local support services i.e. meal delivery and cleaning services,
- school visits to explain and discuss blood cancer with children’s classmates;
- relationship, intimacy and sexuality support, information and referral to services;
- assessment of your aspirations, capabilities and limitations in relation to your current work or study situation as well as help planning a return to work/study or help identifying new work or volunteering options.
Emotional support services include emotional support for both the individual diagnosed with blood cancer as well as their carers. Diagnosis, treatment and survivorship of blood cancer can emit a roller coaster of emotions including fear, anger, sadness, grief and guilt. In addition to providing support themselves, Blood Cancer Support Co-ordinators can also refer to external services including psychologists, counsellors, occupational therapists, exercise physiologists and nutritionists.
One of the current research projects funded by the Leukaemia Foundation include research into preventing and improving treatment of graft versus host disease. Graft versus host disease occurs when your body (the host) considers the donated stem cells or bone marrow as a foreign body and attacks it. In Australia 50-70% of people who undergo a stem cell transplant will develop graft versus host disease. This disease can cause organ damage to vital organs including the lungs and liver, severely compromise a person’s quality of life, cause abdominal, muscle and joint pain and can cause the death of the person.
Limited studies have been conducted into the effects of exercise as an adjunct therapy to treat graft versus host disease. However the limited research that has been conducted has found that exercise can improve many aspects of the person’s life. These include the person’s endurance and aerobic capacity, muscular strength, functional capacity, shortness of breath and quality of life.
Patients’ perceptions of their physical, emotional and social well-being has also been shown to improve with exercise. This includes improved feelings of fatigue, pain, anxiety, depression and aggression. Participating in exercise has also been found to reduce the time spent in hospital for patients undertaking chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
Undertaking both resistance and aerobic training has been found to offer these benefits to patients. Even exercising in bed for 30 mins every day for a 6 week period has been shown to improve the body’s immune system. Improvements to the body’s immune system has significant impacts on the person’s prognosis and survival.
If you or someone you love is undergoing treatment for blood cancer consider seeking the advice of an accredited exercise physiologist to help undertake an exercise program in conjunction with your other treatments. And in the meantime let’s all get behind the World’s Greatest Shave!
- Leukaemia Foundation World’s Greatest Shave. https://worldsgreatestshave.com/
- Leukaemia Foundation. https://www.leukaemia.org.au/
- Fiuza-Luces, C., Garatachea, N., Simpson, R. J., Berger, N. A., Ramirez, M., and Lucia, A. (2015) Understanding graft-versus-host disease. Preliminary findings regarding the effects of exercise in affected patients. EIR 21: 80-112. https://zaguan.unizar.es/record/61323/files/texto_completo.pdf
Need some advice about exercising with cancer? Make a time to see Marissa, our Exercise Physiologist.