A beautifully-designed digital magazine sharing the stories of local cancer survivors will be easily available to chemotherapy patients in Dunedin thanks to a generous donation.

Dunedin’s Young Adult Cancer Support Group put together a unique digital magazine called In It Together with the help of talented Otago Polytechnic design student Kennedy Barnes.

It will be available on five new tablets donated by internet company Unifone, which has also donated tablets and internet to the Balclutha Oncology Department.

As well as reading the magazine, patients will be able to use the tablets to browse the latest news sites, watch Netflix with their headphones, scroll through Facebook or Instagram, or play the latest version of Candy Crush.

The support group, also known as the Cancer Buddies, all know what it’s like to be stuck in a treatment area for hours without much stimulation.

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Back row (from left) Travis Baird (managing director Unifone), Anna Townsend, Emma Kelly (Young Adult Cancer Support Group) and Janene Oliver (Clinical Nurse Co-ordinator). Front row: Beckie Baird (Young Adult Cancer Support Group), Bailey Baird and Kennedy Barnes (In It Together magazine designer).

Group member Beckie Baird, whose husband Travis is the managing director of Unifone, explained how the project came together.

“I was a cancer patient as a young adult and we were sitting in the day unit and people weren’t really talking. It’s a pretty hard time for patients and their families and we wondered what we could do to make this place a bit more enjoyable.”

In It Together includes visual diaries, poems, stories and more, all in stunning visual package.

The team behind the magazine - Beckie, Emma Kelly, and Anna Townsend - have covered all the bases to make it as relatable as possible to a wide audience.

As cancer patients in the past, they found it was hard to find similar aged people who understood the layers of emotional and physical effects a cancer diagnosis can have at a young age. Their hope is that this magazine will help anyone who may be feeling alone and that this will encourage them to reach out for extra support.

“We thought it would be cool for people to share their journeys or read about others’ journeys if they didn’t want to share their own.
“The magazine has got a lot of content and it’s very impressive. Hopefully it will help some people along the way and if it helps one person then we’ll have achieved our goal.”

She paid tribute to Kennedy, whose design skills have brought the magazine to life, and also to Donna Henare from the Cancer Society for her invaluable support.

Clinical Nurse Co-ordinator Janene Oliver said the magazine was a marvellous addition to the Oncology Department and thanked Unifone for their generous donation.

“Sadly we’ve got quite a few young people at the moment and we do get people asking if there are other patients they can talk to who are going through similar treatments. 

“So it’s perfect timing having access to the magazine. It gives them something to do when they’re sitting there for hours on end. Sometimes they sitting there with a lot older people so they can feel isolated even though they are surrounded by people.”

A second issue of the magazine is planned.