Senior RN at St Vincent’s Richard Somerville with Masquerade Ball organisers Mary Vidler and Cheryl Jux.
Senior RN at St Vincent’s Richard Somerville with Masquerade Ball organisers Mary Vidler and Cheryl Jux.

Mask up and make a difference

ENTERING a hospital's oncology unit is a daunting experience.

Nurses get everyone the help they need but the mood is somewhat grim.

A bright glittery mask comes up from nowhere and puts smiles on some faces, and after a couple of quick dance steps around the room, both staff and patients seem brighter.

Friends of St Vincent's Private Hospital in Lismore are inviting the community to their latest fundraising event: a Valentine's Masked Ball and Auction at the Lismore Workers Club on Saturday, February 11 from 6pm, to put smiles on more faces.

With more than 2000 oncology treatments delivered at St Vincent's Hospital every year, the unit is always busy.

Rick Somerville, one of the nurses at the oncology unit, said it had been open for four years and patients were treated four days a week.

Focus groups conducted recently highlighted the need for more private spaces for doctors to discuss treatment and results with their patients.

All proceeds from the ball will be invested in expanding and renovating the oncology unit.

A $48 ticket provides access to a glamorous evening of socialising, good music, a two-course dinner, lucky prizes and raffles.

There will be prizes for best mask and belle and beau of the ball.

Sheryl Jux, from Friends of St Vincent's Private Hospital, became involved in helping to raise money for the oncology unit of St Vincent's Private Hospital "to help with their renovations in adding more private rooms so patients can have appointments with their oncologists in a private setting to discuss their issues".

The project will mean renovating a room adjacent to the current oncology unit with enclosed areas for patients and doctors to discuss treatment options and results, especially in those initial months of treatment that can be the most difficult.

Asked how much money they are hoping to raise, Sheryl said: "Oh, I don't know, but I hope it's a lot." Some items are expected to attract some good bids, especially St George and Broncos guernsey.

"I myself have been affected by skin cancers all my life and I feel that this is a small way of saying thank you for the help that has been given to me," Sheryl said.

Mary Vidler, also from the Friends of St Vincent's Private Hospital, called for people to book tables and attend the ball "even if they don't own a mask. The most important thing is that they get their tickets soon, and we can get them their masks that night".

Tables can be booked at the Lismore Workers Club office.

Information on donations or to become a volunteer can be obtained from Ann Spinnane, co-ordinator of Friends of St Vincent's Private Hospital on 6627 9240.



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