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Amazing fund-raising efforts produce a fully equipped van for cancer support

By Suzanne Hansen

After more than a year of fund-raising activities which were initially kicked off with donations by the families of the late Stacey Bale, Anna Yates and Lisa Gwyn, all who were supported by the Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust in their palliative stages of life, the Mercury Bay Support Trust Van is now a reality.

The new van will be used to transfer much needed and larger home supportive care equipment into the homes of those in Mercury Bay who have a cancer diagnosis, are having treatment, or in their palliative stages of cancer. The equipment comprises items like beds, air mattresses, electric chairs, wheelchairs, wheeled commodes, and sundry patient care items which are valuable, heavy, and require careful handling during transportation and installation. Sadly, through a change in NZ’s medical landscape and Mercury Bay demographics over the last few years, the nature of the type of support needed by our local community with cancer, has more frequently moved towards the more palliative (end of life) journey, which the Trust aims to make as special as possible by supporting people at home and comfortable with their families at the end stages of their lives.

A unique charitable service in New Zealand: The Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust, founded over 30 years ago by patron Jenny Edwards, is a team of local volunteers who provide logistical and emotional support for those in our community who have received a cancer diagnosis. The Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust (MBCST) is quite distinct from the NZ Cancer Society, in that they are a local organisation designed to fill in any gaps in Mercury Bay support for cancer patients and their families. Although they work closely with the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Cancer Society and sponsor a double room at the Cancer Society’s Lions Lodge in Hamilton, the MBCST is a group of local volunteers who have experienced the cancer journey, either personally, professionally, or through supporting loved ones, and all understand the practical considerations of how people living with cancer in Mercury Bay can navigate their own journeys more successfully. The volunteers know their way around, what is available in the community and wider, and how to access it. The MBCST offers a customised host of services to cancer patients in all stages of the cancer journey and their support can kick in as soon as a cancer diagnosis is made, usually by referral from the doctor, nurses, family or friends, or self-referral. We understand that this charitable service is unique in New Zealand.

Through on-going fund-raising efforts, including the great Whiti City FRO-Moval last November at Smitty’s, plus the Mammoth Mountain Bikers 3000 km Tour Aotearoa bike ride from Cape Reinga to Bluff (in honour of Leith Wilson), the van funds have now surpassed $52,000 which more that covers the cost of the van. However, the MBCST is still welcoming donations to the van account, which will be used for ongoing upkeep and maintenance of the van and equipment.

Ruth Young, a trustee of the Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust calls out the Whiti City FRO-Moval campaign late last year for giving the fund raising for the van the large amount of publicity it needed to become so successful. That added to a substantial amount raised by John McKenzie and friends by their 3000 km ride, plus all of the individual contributors since then including some who wish to remain anonymous, gave the positive momentum the initiative needed. Key sponsors and donors are acknowledged in the sign writing on the van, as are the initial inspirations for the van, Stacey Bale, Anna Yates and Lisa Gwyn. The sign writing or wrapping of the van has been provided by Shaun Jackson, Stacey Bale’s brother.

The Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust would like to warmly thank all those who contributed to making this van a reality. It has literally taken a village of individuals, teams and commercial organisations to raise the money required to enable the trust to do their very best supportive care.

Outside of the van fund-raising activities, the main finances for the Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust are raised through their volunteer staffed Cancer Support Trust book shop at 5 Blacksmith Lane Whitianga who are always looking for high quality used books, especially as we get closer to the busy summer season. So, now’s the time to clean out those bookshelves and keep the MBCST doing their great work.

“It has literally taken a village of individuals, teams and commercial organisations to raise the money required to enable the trust to do their very best supportive care.”

Caption: The newly wrapped cancer support van complete with sponsors.


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