A Collaborative Approach to Cancer Survivorship and Mental Health

Date produced 02 October 2013

Our panelist Meg shares her own story as a cancer survivor, including the impact on her family as she copes with multiple cancer diagnoses. The mental health practitioner panelists explore ways to help people like Meg who are undergoing cancer treatment and survivorship.

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Learning outcomes

By watching the webinar you will:

  • develop a better understand the mental health indicators in the context of cancer survivorship

  • be better able to identify the key principles of the featured disciplines’ approach in screening, diagnosing, and supporting people who have survived cancer and may be experiencing depression and/or anxiety

  • explore tips and strategies for interdisciplinary collaborative care for people who have survived cancer and may be experiencing depression and/or anxiety.


Dr Michael Murray
Qualifications: MBBCh, Member of Australian College of Psychological Medicine
Profession: GP and Medical Educator
Based in: Townsville, QLD

Dr Michael Murray is a Townsville based GP currently providing medical education with Tropical Medical Training: General Practice Specialists. He also works at Headspace, Townsville.

Michael has worked for over 25 years as a GP in both rural and metropolitan practice and in indigenous health; his clinical expertise is in psychological medicine.

As the Mental Health Professionals Network’s (MHPN) main webinar facilitator, Dr Michael Murray knows as well as anyone the power of integrated communication. And as a career-long regional and rural doctor, he is profoundly aware of the isolation and restrictions to learning that GPs in the far corners of Australia endure.

He examined the prospects for online learning, especially in regional, rural and remote settings in an interview in August 2012:



  • Ms Meg Rynderman
    Profession: Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre Volunteer
    Based in: Melbourne, Victoria
    Ms Meg Rynderman is a survivor of recurrent Hodgkin disease & hormone positive Breast Cancer. Treatment for her disease has included radiotherapy, high dose chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, bi-lateral mastectomy & reconstruction. Meg volunteers her time at the Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre and also volunteers for Cancer Council Victoria's Cancer Connect program. Meg’s 20-year cancer journey has instilled in her a passion that other cancer survivors should be offered more appropriate support and follow-up care than she experienced in her early years and that cancer should no longer be seen as a one-off incident, but rather a whole-of-life health issue. Meg is a Governor of Bialik College in Hawthorn and has a background in family business.

  • Professor Phyllis Butow
    Qualifications: BA (Hons),Dip Ed, MClinPsych, MPH, PhD
    Profession: Clinical Psychologist
    Based in: NSW
    With my colleagues, I have built up a strong group of over 50 researchers who came together under the banner of the Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-based Medicine in 2007 at the University of Sydney. I am committed to developing Psycho-Oncology research in Australia. I have been honoured to work with many medical, nursing and psychosocial colleagues around Australia and very much enjoy collaborative research. My research interests are within the field of Health Psychology, including psychological impact of disease, factors influencing coping and adjustment to disease, evaluation of health services,health education and behavioural interventions, and health professional-patient communication.

  • Dr Craig Hassed
    Qualifications: MBBS, FRACGP
    Profession: General Practitioner
    Based in: Melbourne, Victoria
    Dr Craig Hassed is a general practitioner and senior lecturer in the Monash University Department of General Practice where he has been teaching at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels since 1989. He has been instrumental in introducing a variety of innovations into medical education and practice with an emphasis on the application of holistic, integrative and mind-body medicine in medical practice, and reconnecting different knowledge systems, e.g. medical science and philosophy, in a way which is grounded, balanced, scientifically valid and clinically effective. He is a regular speaker in Australia and internationally on these topics and is regularly invited to contribute to a variety of community and professional groups.

  • Professor David Kissane
    Profession: Psychiatrist
    Based in: Melbourne, Victoria
    David W. Kissane, MD is an academic psychiatrist,psycho-oncology researcher and author. He is currently the Head of Psychiatry for Monash University in Australia, recently the Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and previously the Foundation Chair of Palliative Medicine at the University of Melbourne.

    His academic interests include group, couples and family psychotherapy trials, communication skills training, studies of existential distress, and the ethics of end-of-life care. He developed a cognitive-existential model of group therapy for women with early stage breast cancer, which ameliorated fear of recurrence, and his trial of supportive-expressive group therapy for advanced breast cancer showed the prevention of depression alongside improved quality of life.

    He is best known for his model of family therapy delivered to ‘at risk’ families during palliative care, which prevents complicated grief and depression in bereavement. His work on demoralization as a variation of depression in the medically ill has preceded interventions to promote meaning-based coping. At MSKCC, Prof Kissane established a Communication Skills Training and Research Laboratory, which developed an applied curriculum for oncology, training over 700 clinicians.

    His books include the Handbook of Communication in Oncology and Palliative Care with Oxford University Press, Handbook of Psychotherapy in Cancer Care with Wiley-Blackwell, Cancer and Depression for the World Psychiatric Association and Family Focused Grief Therapy with Open University Press. Prof. Kissane was awarded the Jimmie C. Holland Chair in Psycho-oncology at MSKCC and was recognized by the International Psycho-Oncology Society in 2008 with their Arthur Sutherland Award for lifetime achievement.

  • Associate Professor Michael Jefford
    Qualifications: MBBS, MPH, MHlthServMt, PhD, MRACMA, FRACP
    Profession: Oncologist
    Based in: Melbourne, Victoria
    Associate Professor Michael Jefford is Deputy Head of the Department of Medical Oncology at Peter Mac Callum Cancer Centre (Peter Mac). He is also Senior Clinical Consultant at Cancer Council Victoria, a Principal Fellow with the University of Melbourne and is Director of the Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, a Richard Pratt legacy.

    Michael completed a laboratory-based PhD and holds Masters degrees in Health Services Management and in Public Health. His clinical practice, and part of his clinical research, focuses on the management of people with gastrointestinal cancers. He has extensive experience designing interventions to improve the psychological wellbeing and supportive care outcomes of people affected by cancer. He has published 98 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters and has presented work at several international meetings covering cancer control, clinical oncology and psycho-oncology.


The webinar was supported by the following resources:

Learning needs

99% of survey respondents indicated their learning needs were 'entirely met' or 'partially met'.

Relevance to practice

When asked to rate how relevant the webinar was to the clinicians own practice, 72% stated it was ‘entirely relevant’. 26% marked it as ‘partially relevant’.

Practice change

93% of respondents intend to make changes to their clinical work practice as a result of attending the webinar.

This webinar was produced in October 2013. The Mental Health Professionals’ Network’s webinars are produced for mental health professionals. The information is intended for suitably-experienced mental health professionals and does not replace clinical judgement and decision making. It is intended for use as a guide of a general nature only and may or may not be relevant to particular patients or circumstances. The subject matter is not exhaustive of any mental health conditions presented. Health professionals implementing any recommendations contained in the webinar must exercise their own independent skill or judgement or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular circumstances when so doing. Any information presented in the webinar recording was deemed relevant at the time of the live event and after this date has not been reviewed. No guarantee can be given that the information is free from error or omission.

Accordingly, MHPN and its employees and agents shall have no liability (including without limitation liability by reason of negligence) to any users of the information contained in any MHPN webinar for any loss or damage (consequential or otherwise) cost or expense incurred or arising by reason of any person using or relying on the information contained in MHPN webinars and whether caused by reason of any error, negligent act, omission or misrepresentation of the information.