health

Sinead started to feel faint when exercising. Then she noticed a pain in her pelvis.

Dry July Foundation
Thanks to our brand partner, Dry July Foundation

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Dry July isn’t just an excuse to brag about foregoing a few drinks at the pub on Friday night – it’s an opportunity to change someone’s life.

Since it began in 2008, more than 160,000 Australians have signed up for Dry July. Together they’ve raised an amazing $37 million for people living with cancer.

People like mum-of-two Sarah. Or medicine student Sinead. Or Dessy, who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia.

Sarah

Sarah Baxter had been meaning to have a mammogram for years.

She had a family history of breast cancer and she knew she might be at risk. Her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer at 42, and her aunt had been diagnosed with breast cancer twice, so Sarah knew she had to get checked.

But Sarah had been a little busy. The mum-of-two had spent the past three years of her life either pregnant or breastfeeding, so a mammogram wasn’t likely to pick up abnormalities.

At the end of her maternity leave in August last year, after she had stopped breastfeeding her son Henry, Sarah finally decided to get a baseline test of her breasts.

An abnormality was found, and a biopsy the same day, confirmed it was breast cancer.

At her first appointment with her surgeon, Sarah met her McGrath Breast Care Nurse Rikki Hopkins, who was there with her every step of the way.

Knowing her family history, Sarah opted to have a double mastectomy and found Rikki hugely supportive of this decision. Follow up tests found additional, more aggressive cancer cells in her removed breast tissues.

Rikki couldn’t have been there without countless women giving up their nightly wine in July each year.

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Sinead

Sinead was studying medicine when she realised something wasn’t quite right.

The 23-year-old had started to feel faint when she was exercising. She didn’t have the energy that she used to. Then she started to feel pelvic pain on one side of her body.

Worried, Sinead decided to go see her doctor. An ultrasound revealed she had an unusual ovarian mass, but the doctors weren’t too concerned and assumed it would just be a complex cyst because she was so young.

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“It gave me a sense of pride that I was part of a community of amazing, beautiful women."

When the pain continued, Sinead sought out a second opinion.

After more tests, Sinead was told she not only had cancer, but she had a rare form of cancer called dysgerminoma.

Being so young and ambitious at the time of her diagnosis, Sinead was a bit reluctant to tell anyone. She didn't want to be seen as sick and she didn't want this diagnosis to hold her back.

Sinead eventually told some close friends and one of their mums told her about Look Good Feel Better, an organisation that teaches people living with cancer how to manage the appearance related side effects of cancer treatment.

Sinead got in touch with Look Good Feel Better and they sent her a Home-delivered Confidence Kit, which gave her some strategies on how to cope with the loss of her hair and eyebrows.

“Beside the excitement of receiving a package full of beautiful products and feeling pampered and special in undesirable circumstances, I think the best thing about the HDKC was that it left me feeling more positive, proud and confident in my appearance,” Sinead says.

“It gave me a sense of pride that I was part of a community of amazing, beautiful women and changed my perspective, allowing me to focus on how grateful I am that services such as Look Good Feel Better are available to help boost your self-esteem.”

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Sinead is continuing to study medicine while she undergoes chemotherapy.

Sinead would never have gotten the help she needed without countless men giving up beer in July.

Dessy

Dessy Olivia was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APML), a rare sub-type of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

Less than 100 people a year are diagnosed with this rare form of cancer in Australia.

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Dessy Olivia was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukaemia.

To treat her APML, Dessy had to undergo four rounds of chemotherapy, each round was four weeks long.

To get to the hospital in Newcastle, Dessy had to travel 30 minutes from her home. Thankfully, Dessy was introduced to a Leukemia Foundation transport co-ordinator who helped Dessy get to her treatment appointments each day. The co-ordinator also made sure Dessy could get to her follow up doctor appointments.

Nine months down the track, Dessy is now leukaemia-free.

Dessy's experience would have been much more difficult if countless couples across Australia didn't decide to leave the booze out of their weekend barbecues in July.

Sarah, Sinead and Dessy got the support they needed because thousands of Australians signed up for Dry July.

Dry July is a fundraiser that encourages you to go alcohol-free in July to raise funds for people affected by cancer.

If you sign up for Dry July, the funds you raise will provide invaluable services and support to people living with cancer, their families, and their carers. These services include lifts to life-saving appointments, guidance from a specialist nurse, access to therapy programs and accommodation close to treatment.

You can sign up for this year's Dry July here.

Dry July Foundation

Dry July is a fundraiser that encourages you to go alcohol-free in July to raise funds for people affected by cancer. The funds raised will provide invaluable services to cancer patients, their families and carers – whether it’s a lift to a life-saving appointment, guidance from a specialist nurse, connection to an informative voice, access to therapy programs or a bed close to treatment.

Having a month off alcohol also has great health benefits, such as sleeping better, having more energy and of course, no hangovers! So you're not only helping others, you're helping yourself. It's a win-win!

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