27 Sep 2018

Tessa Neilson


In Australia, we lack a strong community of support and empowerment for young adults with cancer. Acknowledging the need for mental health resources and support is vital for survivorship.  

Dr Tessa Neilson, a Camperdown local and herself a cancer survivor, has received a Churchill Fellowship because of her motivation to travel overseas and bring back ideas for providing mental health support and resources to young adult cancer patients in Australia.  

Dr Neilson will travel to the USA to investigate the support and resources available to young adult cancer patients in relation to mental health support, for example, psychological support, counselling, and peer services. 

Dr Neilson, a medical doctor working at Sutherland Hospital, has always held a strong interest in mental health, particularly for people who have faced adversity in younger life. 

“It is so important to foster a sense of community and empowerment when facing a life threatening disease.  Cancer treatment at any age can be isolating, however the young adult age group in particular misses out on key support services that might otherwise exist,” said Dr Neilson. 

“As a doctor specialising in psychiatry, I am very aware of how important mental health support can be.  I will be attending the leading international gathering of the young adult cancer movement in the United States, which brings together patients, survivors, health professionals and advocates through a shared goal of improving young adult cancer health outcomes.

“I will also be visiting some of the dedicated Young Adult Cancer Treatment Centres in some of the major hospitals of the United States. These have been developed through the ideals of fostering a community of patients of similar ages and propelling the young adult cancer movement forward.      

“We can learn so much from the USA about cancer care and I look forward to bringing back new knowledge about how we can best support young adults going through cancer.”    

“This is a terrific opportunity for Dr Neilson bring back to Australia innovative ideas to boost support resources available to young adult cancer patients,” said Adam Davey, CEO of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. 

“We look forward to seeing how Dr Neilson will apply her new knowledge to contribute to more effective support for young Australian adult cancer patients throughout their cancer treatment."

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