Jenny Edwards had her first cancer diagnosis over 30 years ago.
It was with her second breast cancer that she decided to approach life differently – to focus on kindness and aroha. A recipe she’s also shown in her time as a Cancer Society volunteer and experienced as a guest at the Cancer Society’s Lions Lodge.
Jenny is an example of the type of person you’ll find at the Cancer Society - supportive and kind, someone who will go the extra mile. After receiving her second cancer diagnosis and not long after moving to Whitianga, Jenny started a group to provide support for people affected by cancer in the Coromandel town.
Whitianga is a six-hour return journey from cancer treatment services, so a local support network was welcomed. Alongside a nurse from the Cancer Society, Jenny ran workshops and support activities to help and support people to live well with cancer.
“It’s very isolated here (in Whitianga) and the support group makes all the difference to people.”
The group, now known as the Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust, is still going – though after 25 years Jenny stepped back from co-ordinating it.
“I miss it – the team environment. We did lots of fundraising and the whole community gets behind us. One year Daffodil Day in Whitianga fundraised more than the city of Tauranga!”
Jenny knows good support when she sees it. Jenny and her husband stayed at the Cancer Society’s Lions Lodge several years ago and again recently, after travelling to Hamilton to receive radiotherapy. Located close to Waikato Hospital, the Lodge provides free accommodation, meals and support for people who have to travel long distances for cancer treatment at the Regional Cancer Centre.
“When we arrived in September the Lodge was ablaze with daffodils - it was bright and cheerful.
“It’s a beautiful building – like a five star hotel, with absolutely fabulous staff who go the extra mile.”
She illustrates this with an example of the Lodge’s manager taking her to hospital after developing pneumonia while at the Lodge. “She stayed with me until 2am because she didn’t want me to be alone - even though she was due at a wedding the next day.”
“There’s five full-time and three part-time staff at the Lodge. With accommodation for up to 83 people, everything the staff can’t do is done by volunteers.
“It’s a really special place – I’ve made friends there.. Such a lovely place, full of really lovely people.”
Jenny feels that the Lodge is a haven for people during a difficult time – full of kindness and aroha.