This month the Components Only and @ The Coalface $500 Community Gift goes to support the Emerald Committee of the Breast & Prostate Cancer Association of QLD, a volunteer managed charity organisation dedicated to improving breast and prostate cancer services.
The Emerald Committee is a beacon of hope for cancer patients in the community. Initially starting as a grassroots effort among friends to raise funds for a woman diagnosed with breast cancer, the committee has since expanded its focus to also include prostate cancer. In a recent interview with Gerry Huston, a committee member for over 12 years, we chatted about the vital work that the association accomplishes.
“Our committee’s been going for about 21 years,” Gerry explained. “The committee has raised $500,000 since we were established and of that $375,000 has been raised from our fundraising dinners. We had our 20th annual dinner only last month, attended by nearly 300 people, where we raised $45,000.”
Remarkably, the committee funded a breast care nurse for 13 years, amounting to $329,000. Now, the Central Highlands including Emerald and Blackwater have a part-time breast care nurse and a prostate nurse thanks to the committee’s advocacy. Gerry stressed the importance of the association being a lobbying voice.
“We lobbied the Government for Queensland Health to take over that role which they have done. That’s the beauty and power of groups like ours, to get rural voices heard.”
The committee also funds professional development for the nurses, including conference travel and accommodation. But the association’s support for cancer patients goes beyond medical needs.
“We do care packages for any clients affected by either breast or prostate cancer. We also support patients who are struggling with everyday bills or any sort of medical stuff. We’ve even funded storage for sperm for a prostate cancer patient, among other unique needs,” said Gerry.
The support they offer is comprehensive and directly targets the local community’s needs. The committee also enjoys wide support from local businesses and other community groups. From rugby groups to race days, various local organisations donate to the committee, demonstrating the reciprocal nature of community support.
“I think what people are really passionate about is, the money we raise, it all stays in the community.”
Everyone on the committee is a volunteer, working around their personal commitments and very passionate about the cause. Gerry’s motivation to join the committee was personal. Her mother battled breast cancer two decades ago.
“I saw my parents uproot their whole life because they lived on a property and had to move to Brisbane for treatment. It’s expensive to get cancer. I am very committed to making a difference and helping support people in their times of need.”
@ The Coalface is honoured to contribute to such a dedicated and community-oriented organisation that significantly impacts the lives of those affected by breast and prostate cancer in the Emerald community and beyond.