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Falling off a cliff

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

Dear Dr Tsien Fua, we think we have finally found your match. A guest speaker who could draw a bigger crowd. Today we were joined by Peter Mac’s CEO Prof. Shelley Dolan. A big drawcard for sure, but would Shelley be big enough to knock the H&N community’s favourite doctor off his perch? Only time would tell…


Shelley was keen to set the scene early – she is a straight talker, Shelley knows there is always room for improvement. Shelley has her own ideas on where some areas of improvement might lie but was very keen to hear ours. After 45 minutes of fantastic engagement it was clear we were all on the same page. The important improvements sit in navigation during treatment, getting access to allied services, and making sure we don’t fall off a cliff once treatment finished.


It is common for head and neck patients to move from diagnosis to treatment very quickly all the while needing to digest a huge volume of information. It is important that this information is provided at the right time and in a way that is useful – signposted and wayfinding as Shelley puts it. Then, suddenly, when the treatment comes to an end people can feel less supported and more alone. This feeling can be intensified by the difficulty of finding the right services outside of the hospital system. This is when we feel like we have fallen off a cliff.





After Shelley showed us her four pages of notes and said goodbye, the group had a member’s only discussion. We had four new members this month – all at varying stages of treatment from pre to post. It is always fantastic to be joined by new members. To hear about their experiences and share our collective ideas on how we can support each other and prevent that falling off the cliff feeling.


As the meeting wound up, our 8+ million TikTok son, Andy, reminded us that we had a new celebrity in our midst’s. If you haven’t seen Lora’s appearance on Channel 9’s Weekend Today show yet you can watch it here.


We look forward to seeing you all again on the 5th October. Oh, and before I forget. Tsien versus Shelley – it was a draw. A fitting result for Peter Mac given we know it is a team environment.

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