Tag Archives: Research

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.

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.


Magnesium Deficiency

This information has been summarized from a discussion by George. D. Lundberg MD (in medscape.com May 2015)

Dr Lundberg says Magnesium is an essential mineral that has significance in multiple regulatory enzyme systems controlling, bone, muscle, nerve, protein, DNA, glucose and energy metabolism.  He discusses a report in 2009 by the World Health Organization that stated in America 75% of people did not consume enough magnesium in their diet. This may be due to the prevalence of fast or processed food intake. Interestingly consumption of alcohol even in moderate amounts can double or even quadruple the loss of magnesium from the body.

Deficiency in magnesium has been blamed for many illnesses including irregular heart beat, high blood pressure, anxiety, seizures, leg cramps, restless leg syndrome, fatigue, weakness, pre menstrual syndrome, osteoporosis and fibromyalgia. He points out that blood tests are not a reliable indicator of a person’s magnesium level but in people presenting with the issues described above, low magnesium should be considered

The recommended daily intake of magnesium varies according to whether you are male or female but Lundberg says 400mg is an average amount to include in your daily intake, preferably from your diet.

Magnesium is found in dark leafy greens, especially kale and spinach and broccoli, tree-nuts and peanuts; seeds; oily fish; lentils, legumes, whole-grains, avocado, yoghurt bananas, kiwi fruit, dried fruit, dark chocolate and molasses.

Check with your doctor whether or not it is ok to take a supplement if don’t think you are getting enough magnesium in your diet.  (I think I know what my supplement might be……!)

A Drink a Day May Boost Risk for Certain Cancers

Another study showing an increased risk for cancer with drinking alcohol, even with just one or two drinks a day, has prompted renewed warnings on the health risks associated with alcohol consumption.

The new study, from an analysis of more than 150,000 healthcare professionals in the United States, found that overall, light to moderate drinking (alcohol intake of <15 g/day for women and <30 g/day for men) was associated with a small but non-significant increase in cancer risk in both women and men.

But this risk was more defined in specific populations. In men, the association was apparently driven by tobacco use. But for women, even one drink a day was associated with an increased risk for alcohol-related cancers, primarily breast cancer, and this was unrelated to smoking status.

The study was published online August 18, 2015 in the BMJ.

Some interesting nutrition news –  thank you Sarah, our dietician, for these links.

Healthy eating

Colour recipe wheel

The Queensland Health colour wheel – making fruit and veges look very attractive!

This is a great resource as has lots of evidence based nutritional information, including an app and healthy recipes.

Go to healthier.qld.gov.au/tools/colour-recipe-wheel/

Sugar Myths

It is often difficult to sort fact from fiction in relating to diets. You may well have heard that sugar should be avoided in the diet because it feeds cancer, this article looks at myths and facts relating to this topic and well worth reading.

Sugar and cancer myths by Queensland Health – Nemo resource available at: