Breast cancer survivor Pam Campbell is loving her volunteer work at Bloomhill’s café, which provides a welcoming spot for clients to connect with each other, with family or friends.
Her own experience with breast cancer highlighted the importance of connecting with loved ones and allowing them to support her during the challenging time.
“I had breast cancer six years ago,” Pam said.
“I had a lumpectomy and lymph node removal and radiation. I did think, ‘Why me? I didn’t win lotto, why do I have to win this!’ I didn’t know about Bloomhill at the time, but I was lucky I had friends and family and a lot of support.”
After treatment Pam started art classes and paddled dragon boats for a while but had trouble committing to these self-care activities due to her husband Neil’s illness. Then she found her own happy place – in a kayak!
“I had my daughters’ backup to start in the kayak,” she said. “It is still my happy place – the rhythm, breathing, it’s serene on the river. I’m so totally on my own with my own thoughts it’s my meditation time. I found my own means of self-care.”
She said Bloomhill provided important supports that help people prioritise self-care.
Like many cancer survivors Pam said it has changed the way she looks at life.
“I’ve only had one call-back which was a shock, I had biopsies. I was waiting for other boot to drop, but it hasn’t. Every day is a bonus. It has given me a wakeup call, I’ve done more new things in last few years.”
Before she joined the café, Bloomhill had been on Pam’s mind.
“Last year I was driving past and I went and had coffee. It’s such a beautiful setting at the restaurant, so restful and calming. I thought, ‘one day I’ll come back and volunteer’.”
With Neil ill, Pam decided she needed “to fill my dance card and keep busy”.
Pam’s duties include helping with setup, waiting tables, cleaning tables, taking orders and working the till.
“I do whatever needs doing. I haven’t learnt to be a barista yet, but it’s part of the training.”
She sees one of her most important duties as talking to the customers.
“I have a joke with people now I know some of the regulars. I try to wear funny earrings as a conversation piece.”
Among her favourite conversation starters is a pair of “zebra finch” earrings from her granddaughter.
Pam said as well as the fresh, healthy food cooked in café’s commercial kitchen, and great coffee, the atmosphere at the Bloomhill Café is what sets it apart from other cafes and keeps people coming back.
“It’s easy to get to, has wheelchair access and fresh air amongst the greenery. I love it here at the Café.”
If you’re at Bloomhill Café on Wednesday or Thursday and you see a friendly woman with fabulous earrings, chances are it’s Pam.
To become a volunteer at Bloomhill visit the website www.bloomhill.com.au/get-involved/volunteering or phone reception 07 5445 5794.
Author: Jan Richards, volunteer journalist. Published: Nicky Moffat, 1 September 2022.