News and Insights

So what is motivation ?

Motivation is the determination to reach our personal goals or desires. It is influenced by how much we want to achieve that goal, what we might gain from the achievement and what we from expect from ourselves.
There is little doubt that when it comes to health and wellness, the ability to stay positively motivated and continue with good physical activity and nutrition habits can be a struggle. Often we start out strong and then ‘life’ gets in the way and we go back to our old, perhaps not so good, behaviours. So here are some quick tips to help you stay motivated. 

- Self-belief to stay motivated is important as it influences our thinking. Developing a positive and high self-belief can create successful changes in our behaviours especially during exercise and help us reach our goals. Use positive self-affirmations.

- Find your reason why you want to achieve this goal, write it up somewhere and keep your focus on it, this is often a good way to stay motivated if you feel you are faltering.

- Set realistic, rewarding goals and regularly review them. This is a key aspect of keeping yourself motivated to get the positive benefits. To start with, it is sometimes helpful to just set one achievable goal and work it into your daily routine, break it down into manageable parts.  For example if your goal is to exercise, start by doing a daily walk for 30 minutes. Have a timeframe for when you want to have achieved this a s regular activity and then build on it.

- Keep a good and regular routine – Use an app or a reminder system so you can’t let the day escape before you have achieved your daily goal – some people make this work by creating a daily appointment for themselves just as they would for any other appointment for example the hairdresser, doctor, dentist or a friend. Being busy’ or ‘being too tired’ often causes a break down in the routine that was
initially set.

- Use your family and friends as support – tell them about your goals and encourage them to help keep you motivated. Buddy up with someone so you can help and motivate each-other or get yourself a mentor to guide you. Check your goals and your progress frequently. Seeing good progress is a great motivator in itself, and can also improve your self-confidence.

- Keep goals fun and reward yourself when you have achieved them, make a plan for when and how you will do this. Put a note on your calendar for reward day so you keep progressing towards the goal.

Remember …..
If you lose motivation for a day or two, don’t let that deter you. Pick yourself up and carry back on again, see it as a challenge not a failure, setbacks are normal.

Sexuality and Relationships after Cancer 

Cancer doesn’t just affect the person diagnosed it has an impact on the people who are closest to them and it can also be very stressful for their partners. For many partners there will be a period of shock, anxiety and fear until they have adjusted to the situation. There are many tricky topics for couples to negotiate during diagnosis, through treatment, and beyond and one of those topics is sexuality and intimacy.

Being close to someone who has been diagnosed and treated for cancer can impact on all aspects of the relationship including the sexual and intimate relationship of a couple. There may be a number of concerns, including resuming sexual activity because you are afraid of hurting your partner, or concerned that initiating sex is inappropriate when they are feeling tired or unwell. You may be worried about showing shock at scar or other bodily changes due to treatments, or anxious that the chemotherapy and radiotherapy could have an effect on you. It may be that you are worried about the future and are fearful of losing your partner. All of these issues may play a role in diminished sexual intimacy.

Equally your partner may be concerned about whether you will still find her attractive, how you see her now, and if you will be comparing things to how they were before. These concerns are common, and you may be both making assumptions about how the other feels without knowing it. Communication with your partner is key and taking the time to discuss how she feels about intimacy, and when she thinks a good time might be to resume sexual activity. It is important to have an open and honest conversation that remains supportive to discuss fears and worries you both have, dispel some myths  and how you will overcome them and potentially show affection in other ways.

If you can relate to some of these points, it is really important to chat to a health professional, there are often simple strategies to help address these problems.

Below are some resources that may also be helpful:

Janine Porter-Steele

Janine is The Clinical Nurse Manager of the Wesley Hospital Choices Cancer Support Centre in Brisbane.  The centre offers support, sharing and information for women, men and their families affected by a diagnosis of cancer. For many years Janine has also been actively involved with the Women’s Wellness Research Programs as manager,  delivering the programs, supporting the development of resources, and co-writing a number of the journals.

Janine undertook much of her training in the UK as a registered nurse, midwife, health visitor and family planning nurse. She completed a Bachelor of Nursing at QUT, a Masters in Nursing Leadership at ACU and she is also Breast Care and Women’s Health Nurse. Janine believes very strongly in providing interdisciplinary and comprehensive support for people affected by a diagnosis and treatment of cancer and has a particular interest in younger, midlife and older women’s health. Janine completed her PhD studies in the area of cancer and sexuality linked with the Women’s Wellness after Cancer Program (WWACP). Her particular focus is in managing menopause, sexuality, body image and depression issues for women.

Lately, Janine has been working with Auckland University and the University of Queensland to deliver a program as part of a research trial providing a Women’s Wellness Program for young women in New Zealand  (NZ) diagnosed with breast cancer. She and the Women’s Wellness team have also been recipients of a grant from Wesley Medical Research. They are using this to replicate the NZ feasibility trial with young women diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia.

In her spare time Janine likes spending time with family and friends. She enjoys walking the local bush tracks in the area. Her favourite relaxation is wandering along the beach in Northern New South Wales and kayaking the rivers down there.

Debra Anderson

The Debra Anderson Wellness Network (DAWN) is a collaborative women’s health and wellness network that is directed and was founded by Professor Debra Anderson. As Director of DAWN and the Women’s Wellness Research Collaborative (WRC), Debra is also Associate Dean of Research at The University of Sydney. Debra has a PhD in Social and Preventative Medicine and over twenty-five years’ experience in education and research.
Her research focuses on understanding the basis and effects of risk behaviours in women and the interventions to change them; focusing on wellness and healthy behaviours. Her research aims to promote healthy behaviour change in women and as such where DAWN derives its emphasis on promotion of living a healthy lifestyle and improving wellness. Her research is directed at women with and without chronic disease, including midlife women and women cancer survivors. This includes the main practices of the DAWN programs of physical activity, dietary intake, stress management, unhealthy practices such as smoking, and to develop and test interventions that promote these behaviours.
The DAWN programs would not be possible without the considerable funding and partnerships that is received from other peak research bodies. Professor Anderson has worked to secure funding and partnerships from significant programs such as National Health, Medical Research Council, The Australian Research Council, Diabetes Queensland and Cancer Council Queensland, to fund development of research programs.
Professor Anderson has important International linkages, including holding key positions on International Organizations, and having been based as a scholar in Geneva at the World Health Organisation, and has presented at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland , the WHO Collaborating Centres special invitational meeting in Brazil, 2010, and the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 2015 and 2016.
To deliver these programs and provide evidence-based information for those needing it Professor Anderson has also partnered with accomplished researchers, skilled health professionals, and an experienced team.
Professor Anderson aims to incorporate the wellness strategy into all aspects of her life and enjoys running, walking, yoga, her family and her pet dog Rex (who is very friendly).

Tom Bailey

Dr Tom Bailey is a Research Fellow in the School of Nursing Midwifery and Social Work and leads the Physiology and Ultrasound Laboratory in Science and Exercise at the University of Queensland (links below). As an exercise physiologist, his research focuses on understanding changes in cardiovascular health across the spectrum of healthy ageing and chronic disease. He also aims to understand the potential benefits of exercise training for women’s health, including following cancer treatment. This includes current local and nationally funded exercise trials in patients with breast and gynaecological cancer. To do this, Dr Bailey implements a variety of novel ultrasound imaging techniques for the assessment of vascular function and structure, including at the brain, heart, and systemic arteries. Tom’s research includes aiming to understand the pathophysiology of post-menopausal hot flushes, and the efficacy of exercise training for alleviating hot-flush frequency and severity. As an extension of this work, he has recently shown that in women treated for breast cancer, those who remained physically active, and met guidelines for more intense physical activity, reported less severe symptoms associated with the menopause. Dr Bailey currently manages the ACUMEN trial, which aims to understand the physical benefits of exercise therapy in women following treatment for gynaecological cancer.

For further information regarding Dr Bailey’s newest research at UQ head to:

or contact Dr Bailey at:

Vicky Graham and True North Wellness

True North Wellness is an exercise, health and wellness centre integrating allied health & fitness practices in a safe and welcoming environment. Their team of passionate health professionals have the expertise and experience to support people to improve your health, no matter where they are starting from. Whether you want to lose weight, manage your diabetes or are recovering from an illness or injury True North Wellness can tailor a personalised health plan to assist your needs. This may include helping you to move safely, eat healthier or have a more positive headspace.

Vicky Graham is a Women’s Health Exercise Physiologist at True North Wellness with over 30 years experience working with women to achieve their full health potential. As an Accredited Exercise Physiologist she has the depth of knowledge and expertise to work with specialist medical conditions to ensure a coordinated approach with your health team. Vicky is a trained facilitator of the DAWN Women’s Wellness Programs and delivers these programs in her clinic True North Wellness in Brisbane’s Northside. Her natural health coaching style as a practitioner compliments the wholistic lifestyle approach of the women’s wellness programs.

Vicky loves delivering the DAWN Women’s Wellness Programs as they “Empower women with evidence based health information, support and confidence to be the best version of themselves” Vicky has had extensive experience working with women during and after cancer. Her speciality area of movement and exercise is an important strategy to help manage the effects of cancer treatments but “knowing where to start and how to progress can be overwhelming for women”. Vicky breaks it down into small sustainable steps and empowers women to use exercise as a positive strategy in this challenging stage. Vicky practices what she preaches and enjoys running and doing triathlons with her family and dog. Her 80:20 rule ensures she enjoys a balanced approach to living a healthy lifestyle.

The collaboration with health professionals like Vicky Graham allows the DAWN programs to be delivered in different areas both virtually and also as in-house programs. This facilitates DAWN’s holistic wellness approach through a diverse range of qualified practitioners.

Vicky Graham can be contacted on 0438 158179 and at and

Leonie Young

We hear stories all the time about people diagnosed with cancer but when it becomes personal we’re never prepared.  Somehow, we seem to think we’re different and these things happen to other people.  Well I learned otherwise.  Cancer is what opened up another world and changed so much about who I thought I was.

Breast cancer was totally unexpected especially as I was only 32 years old.  I was busy enjoying being a mother to my two small daughters.  I certainly wasn’t ready to die, although like most people diagnosed with cancer, this is what I thought.

Just hearing the words You have cancer can be a devastating experience people usually remember for the rest of their lives long after they have forgotten all the details of medical treatment and tests that followed those words.

Often people are so frightened by the word “cancer” they hear nothing else.  Interestingly, hearing the diagnosis may actually be more traumatic for some, regardless of their diagnosis. That’s what having a cancer diagnosis is like – people aren’t necessarily brave or especially wonderful in what they do, they just do what they have to do to survive because there’s really no other choice.

My world soon changed to the previously unknown one of tests, surgery, and chemotherapy.  Cancer treatments aim to save lives but in doing so, they often bring life-changing side-effects.   I eventually found ways to make meaning of what I had been through  and found myself being involved with many aspects of cancer consumer advocacy, support, training, and mentoring.  I became interested in research because I believe evidence based practice is the only way we will see change and I have  been able to work along-side researchers  providing input from my personal experience as they develop their research projects.

Likewise, in my work at the Wesley Hospital Choices Cancer Support Centre (Choices) I help support people diagnosed with cancer from the perspective of someone who has “been there” and now with my work and through initiatives like the Women’s Wellness  Programs and the Younger Women’s Wellness After Cancer Program, this support is able to continue in a very rewarding way.

I’ve survived to see my daughters grow up, get married, and have children.  I have to confess I’m torn between wanting to stay young and knowing that growing older is a privilege many women still don’t have.  When I was that young woman back then I really wanted to be where I am today so I do try really hard to embrace the ever increasing grey hair and consequent extra trips to the hairdresser and wrinkles and all the other things that come with age.

Over time I learned to respect cancer, not fear it.  I discovered the power of the lived experience, the value of peer support, and about how I could make a difference.

I want breast cancer to go away so my daughters and grandchildren – and your children, grandchildren, sisters, mothers, friends can live without the fear of breast cancer.


Alcohol consumption is always a risk and the risk further increases if there is an excess on a regular basis or if binge drinking occurs. Excess alcohol consumption by women can cause issues in weight gain, high blood pressure, and increases risk for many health conditions including cancers and diabetes. Health and wellness in relation to alcohol does not have to take away alcohol all together for women, however promoting a healthy lifestyle whereby alcohol is not relied upon can ensure you are not consuming too much. These are some useful tips for the home and the workplace to promote this balance and provide positive healthy living messages surrounding alcohol intake:

1. Try not to make staff or other outings in places that promote alcohol consumption.
2. Always have water/other options available instead of alcohol at work functions.
3. Attempt to set goals to reduce the amount of standard drinks you have per day/week.
4. Avoid binge drinking.

These few tips can reduce the risks that come with consuming alcohol. Though avoiding alcohol all together would be the ultimate goal to avoid the many risks that can come from its consumption, remember there are other options. By placing smaller goals like specific weeks or months with no alcohol it is recommended to decrease the chances of getting a life-threatening illness and increasing overall health and wellness.

Goal Setting

Goal Setting can be an important action in ensuring health and wellness. Setting goals both large and small can provide direction and focus and promote healthy habits to provide positive outcomes. Here are five goals that the Women’s Wellness Program focuses on to encourage healthy change:

  1. Healthy weight and waist circumference.
  2. Physical activity.
  3. Reducing unhealthy habits.
  4. Healthy eating.
  5. Reducing stress.

Setting small goals within each area gives a starting point. Goal setting should start with goals that are not easy but not impossible. Starting with smaller goals allows you to put in the effort to do something and be able to maintain it. This can include reducing consumption of certain foods/alcohol/smoking daily or increasing physical activity per week. This can also lead into taking time in your day to attempt to reduce stress levels. From here goals can be increased and placed in more specific areas of weight goals, physical activity goals, and beating unhealthy habit (smoking/alcohol/caffeine) goals. Each of these is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and increasing overall wellness.

How to get your daily 8 glasses of water in

Everyone knows we can survive longer without food, but water is life’s most essential nutrient. The recommended eight glasses a day seems a hard task when we all live busy lives filled with work, family, and everything else that has to get done in between. Here are some simple tips to make sure you get those eight glasses in.

  1. Wake up and have a drink of water to start the day and if you can to end the day.
  2. Have a glass of water with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  3. If you don’t like water try and mix it up a bit and add in a glass of sparkling water with a dash of lemon or other natural flavours, or try a herbal tea (hot or cold).
  4.  Drink at least a glass between lunch and dinner (more if you have worked out).
  5. Have a drink of water after you use the bathroom.
  6. Set a phone reminder or use an app to keep you on track.
  7. Sip water throughout the day (keeping a re-usable water bottle handy gets you in a good habit of reaching for your water).
  8. If ordering food at a restaurant try to have that glass of water with your meal.

Doing this can help form the habit of reaching that eight glasses of water plus more. Drinking plenty of water is also helping to keep your energy at a higher level and your body receiving the nutrients it requires to keep your skin and body hydrated while reducing overeating. Drinking more water also is shown to improve memory and mood to flush out bad toxins and boost brain function. Keeping in these eight simple habits is the first steps in keeping your body healthy and increasing overall wellness.