Oncology nurse inspires support for Dry July

29 May 2023

Cameron Brent has been a nurse for the past 22 years. Much of his time in nursing has been at the St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne Cancer Centre.
Most recently he’s taken on the role of coordinator of the Cancer Care @ Home program.

For the past two years, Cameron has taken part in Dry July. Despite being his birthday month, he is always happy to give up alcohol to raise money for his patients. Last year, Cameron raised $1,200 for the campaign. This year, he’s keen to increase that amount by inspiring his colleagues to join him in the Dry July challenge.

Cameron, who can be brutally honest, says it was selfish reasons that first gave him the idea to do Dry July. “I thought it would be a good thing for my health and my wallet to have some time off alcohol.”

Known for his humour, Cameron’s approach to asking family and friends to donate to Dry July was no exception. “I basically said, this is your chance to laugh at my misfortune. And if you laugh, you have to donate! People were happy to support me. I also admit, I did play the birthday sympathy card to my advantage.”

IMAGE: Cam with Kellie, one of his patients.

Committed to his profession
Cameron maintains a passion for his profession because, as he describes, his role is not only constantly challenging but filled with lots of positive developments in cancer treatments.

“Over the years, I’ve seen treatments change significantly. Not too long ago, patients would receive a cancer diagnosis that would lead to palliative care. Now, thanks to clinical trials and novel therapies, we’re seeing patients live 8 to 10 years cancer free.”

It’s Cameron’s dry wit that helps him cope on particularly tough days. He says it helps him to ‘rationalise the irrational’. 

“Working in day oncology for so long has meant I get to know patients really well, sometimes over a period of 10 years which can be from diagnosis to end of life care. Patients become a part of your family. You do everything in your power to help them. But cancer doesn’t discriminate – it can hit anyone at any time.”

“The shock and initial transition can be challenging. That’s why it’s so good, thanks to funding from Dry July, that we can offer patients a comfortable environment. A few years ago, we were able to purchase new treatment chairs for the ward. I know how much patients appreciate these special chairs. Another year it was scalp cooling caps to help patients undergoing cancer treatment to keep their hair during chemotherapy.”

Sign up for Dry July
Cameron has many reasons why he thinks people should take part in Dry July. The most important is because you will be helping patients going through treatment for cancer.

“Our patients are going through one of the most challenging journeys they’ll ever have to face. I know how much the items we’re able to purchase from the Dry July funds mean to them. Not only do they bring comfort, but they’ve also told me that knowing the money was raised for their benefit means a lot.

“I encourage everyone to consider signing up for Dry July. Think of how much money you’ll save, not to mention the benefits to your waistline!

“You can challenge yourself or do it as a team. I encourage other St Vincent’s departments to get a team together – the challenge is on!”

Individuals and workplace teams can sign up to Dry July



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