Peace of Mind, Rebecca

(1/2) Caroline passed away from brain cancer not long after the birth of her son Benjamin. Her husband, Clinton Matthews, and his sister, Rebecca Picone, started the Peace of Mind Foundation, a Geelong-based not-for-profit organisation in December 2013. We hear from Rebecca.


‘Clinton and I felt very passionate about helping other families diagnosed with brain cancer because of the struggles and lack of support he and his family had faced. Our main aim was to start a charity that would help fill a void in supportive care for this particular cancer type and raise public awareness of this insidious disease. We provide financial, emotional and practical support to brain cancer patients and their families.

In Australia brain cancer (or tumour) is currently the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women aged under 40 and it takes the lives of more children in Australia than any other disease. Sadly though brain cancer is one of the least funded of all cancers and can be considered a ‘forgotten cancer’ as far as supportive care is concerned.

Due to the complexity of the disease and the broad range of brain tumour types (120 in total) only two in 10 patients will survive more than five years after diagnosis. Brain cancer is also a unique cancer in that it has the ability to affect a person both physically and cognitively. Often after diagnosis/neuro-surgery patients are not able to continue work, and their loved one may also have to give up work to become full-time carers. This instant loss of income, along with the hefty costs of neurosurgery and certain drugs that are not yet covered under the PBS, also means that brain cancer costs more per patient per lifetime than any other cancer.

These are just some of the reasons Peace of Mind Foundation is so important to families on the brain cancer journey. There are no other organisations in Australia that offer the same services as Peace of Mind so the demand for our services currently far outweighs our capacity. As a result we have had to focus solely on the Barwon region for the time-being. Between 40 and 60 families living in this area are given a brain cancer diagnosis every year, and Peace of Mind Foundation is one of the first point of calls for supportive care. We provide one-off annual financial grants for families experiencing financial hardship, funded counselling sessions, in-home help and we also run the largest brain tumour support group in Victoria. The foundation also hosts the only men’s and women’s brain cancer retreats in Australia, free social days and equine therapy for patients and carers.

So far we have financially supported over 70 families and have provided information and referrals to well over 200. We are a small charity that relies solely upon fundraising, public donations and community support to fund everything that we do.’