Cancer. We all know someone touched by its noxious fingers. We support organisations and charities valiantly searching for a cure, but the people fighting for life need something more immediate: a shoulder to cry on and someone to listen to their fears — right here, right now.

When Daniel George was touched by cancer, he joined the 25,000 Queenslanders diagnosed each year. “I knew that people fighting cancer needed support today,” he said. “I wanted to bridge the gap between organisations working to find a cure and those needing immediate support.”

The answer, for the 30-year old father of two young girls, finance specialist and Brisbane Spartans basketball player, was establishing the Still I Rise Foundation. Providing counselling and rehabilitation services through ICON Cancer Care at the Mater Hospital, the foundation is currently providing these services free to 121 patients and their families.

Bree Rhodes of Dreaming Tree Counselling is part of the Still I Rise team. “I am working with the foundation to help bridge the gap between the medical and the emotional. Cancer is often viewed as something only affecting others and often, the people I see have never sought the services of a counsellor before. I support their clinical treatment with methods to reduce anxiety, increase resilience and manage day-to-day life.” Raising money through donations and sponsorship, the foundation has an annual target of $125,000. Daniel explains, “$120 covers one hour of counselling. That means 20 hours every week of the year, and would allow us to touch most of the ICON locations.”

Treating, as well as supporting, Daniel through his cancer treatment, and voicing the Still I Rise sentiment was Dr Paul Mainwaring, Consultant Medical Oncologist at the Mater Hospital. “We have to take people through a journey with a positive attitude. We see patients who are too laid back, who are trying to use a defensive mechanism to bury those emotional issues, and then there are those who come out fighting.”

Though in search of increased support, the foundation is looking to retain a personalised approach. “We’re not looking to punch through the client numbers,” Daniel said. “We would like to see a small number of counsellors and then add a more holistic approach, such as increased rehabilitation programs, through exercise groups, yoga etc.”

 

Inspired by a Tupac song and not (as I wrongly assumed) the Maya Angelou poem, the foundation’s key goals are driven by the same feisty intensity as the rapper’s lyrics. But endorsement from sporting celebrities such as Ellie Salthouse, Ricky Ponting, Mal Meninga, Andrew Gaze and Anthony Mundine is not enough. Daniel says, “Each dollar the foundation receives is used to help people who need it the most. But we need to sustain our future. We have had some success with fundraising events, but aim to do more; make them bigger and better.”

If you would like to know more about the foundation or offer your support, please contact them through their website at www.stillirise.com.au or by email info@stillirise.com.au

Words and images by Colin Bushell