Dr Sally Butchers with dance teachers, Martin and Heather Elphinstone

Having family, friends and patients going through their cancer journeys I am very happy to support the wonderful work of the Cancer Council, which raises money to help patients in many different ways and to help fund research with the aim of a cancer free future.

Less spontaneous, for a surgeon who hasn’t danced properly for 30 years, was accepting an invitation for this year’s Dance for Cancer in Lismore. The decision was both exciting and scary, but I soon found myself in the hands of amazing teachers -  thank you to Martin and Heather Elphinstone. They have taken me from being a dance leader, the largest in my long-ago ballet class, to being a follower - no easy task. They have also taken me into the amazing world of Cuban dancing, such an elegant style and so much fun to do.

No Friend but the Mountains

No Friend but the Mountains

Behrouz Boochani

Picador 374pp

Of the hundreds – or is it thousands? – of asylum seekers who have been detained in the “holding centres” of Christmas Island, Port Hedland, Nauru, Manus and Port Moresby none is likely to be as recognisable as the Kurdish-Iranian Behrouz Boochani whose book, dictated to an interpreter via WhatsApp on his cell phone has taken the Australian literary world by storm.

Nordocs organisers - Louise Imlay-Gillespie, Sabine Ringowski, Angela Bettess and David Guest

The topics were as diverse as could be imagined, ranging from life as a JMO on the Northern Rivers to medical cannabis and a surgical aid program in Timor Leste (East Timor) involving doctors from Australia, Cuba and China.

The second annual NORDOCS gathering received sponsorship from the Northern NSW Local Health District and the North Coast Primary Health Network, with the Lismore venue being provided by the University Centre for Rural Health. It was held under the barrier-less “unconference” format

The 30 attendees also heard about the history of the local medical fraternity from 1866, the challenges of rural surgical training, managing obstructive sleep apnoea, the prospects (and challenges) of greater longevity, lifestyle medicine and modern stroke management.

Professor Dan Howard, SC

Despite a passing resemblance to Kenneth Hayne AC QC, who headed  the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, Professor Dan Howard SC presides over a very different kind of inquiry. Known as the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’, the NSW Government-convened roadshow held two days of hearings in Lismore in mid-May.

According to Professor Howard, a former president of the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal and former acting judge of the District Court of NSW, “Lismore is one of the regional communities where the use of crystal methamphetamine is of particular concern.” 

Ready for the Fred’s Place Tweed Heads community sleepout on Thursday 29 August are (l-r) Jessica Peebles, Alysia Hopkins (Fred’s Place coordinator), Megan Claeys (standing), Paula Vermunt and David Holmes.

They call it the “field of dreams” scenario – build it and they will come, and they have been doing just that in Tweed Heads and Coffs Harbour where the St Vincent de Paul Society, a.k.a. Vinnies, has developed weekday drop-in centres offering a range of services to people who are homeless or at risk of becoming so

In the border location, where it is the only such centre in a highly populated area, Fred’s Place – named after the Society’s founder, Frederic Ozanam – is now seeing more than one hundred people a day through its doors. While registration is requested, anonymity is respected and no IDs are checked, hence a number of visitors from “Mars’” and clients claiming to be “Superman” and “Mickey Mouse”. Mental health issues are relatively common amongst the homeless population.