Life Force | About Us



Our history


From her own experience of cancer, Jilly Pascoe recognised the need for a more balanced approach to the management of the illness, one which allows the human side to be acknowledged. She found that there was little or no support for cancer patients or their families and carers in dealing with any of the non-medical aspects of the disease.

Together Jilly and meditation teacher Caro Jonas founded Life Force and began running weekly support groups for cancer patients in Sydney’s eastern suburbs in 1993.

Life Force Foundation Limited was established as a non-profit organisation in February 1995, and in February 1996 received charitable status.

It provides a range of programs to assist people dealing the emotional and psycho-social impact of living with cancer.

Professor Michael Friedlander, AM PhD FRACP, Head of Medical Oncology at Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital and a Patron of Life Force, has this to say about Life Force:

“I have been associated with the Life Force Cancer Foundation since its inception in 1993 and have been more than impressed with the support that they have offered to patients with cancer and to their families. They have survived largely on the good will of the staff and community who have donated their time as well as funds to run the programs.

There is now ample evidence to support psychosocial service provision and this is no longer an area of controversy as it was when Life Force was established. There are now psychosocial guidelines endorsed by the NHMRC and no one would argue that this is an important and essential component of cancer care.

One of the major advantages of the Life Force Cancer Foundation is that it sees patients outside the hospital system in a non-threatening environment and I see this as one of its major strengths. In my experience many people do not want to return to the hospital setting for psychological support once treatment has completed, due to the memories that are evoked by returning regularly to the same institution. Another major strength of Life Force is that the counsellors work with clinicians rather than against them and this is consistent with the holistic approach to cancer care.”

Professor Friedlander received The 2007 Medical Oncology Group of Australia-Novartis Oncology Cancer Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to the control of cancer in Australia.

Our board and staff


Foundation patrons

Professor Michael Friedlander AM MBChB (Hons) MRCP FRACP PhD

Michael is a Professor of Medicine at the University of New South Wales and Director of Medical Oncology at Prince of Wales Hospital.

He has been involved with Life Force since its inception in 1993 and continues to support the work of the Foundation.

Gabi Hollows AO

Gabi is a founding director of The Fred Hollows Foundation and has always had a strong interest in health and the well-being of others.

She practiced as an orthoptist for many years, working beside Fred Hollows on The National Trachoma Program.

Gabi was a founding member of Life Force and is a strong supporter of the Life Force philosophy and programs.

Ambassadors

Deidre Pinder

Deidre Pinder has been a member of the Edgecliff Life Force group since 2010. She found the experience very helpful and fell into the role of Ambassador through informally networking and marketing the group.

She is now an Ambassador for Life Force which involves marketing the group to the local hospitals and liaising with local health professionals.

Deidre is a social worker, has completed a workplace training certificate and human resource management diploma and partially completed a second degree in occupational therapy. She works for the public sector in a disability awareness training and policy role.

Board members

Angel Ioannou

Angel attended LFCF sessions in late 2001 after his treatment for cancer that year. He strongly agrees with the philosophy of the foundation and has assisted in fund raising and in some of the information systems needs.

He became a director in 2006 and in 2017 was elected as President

He looks to continue to promote and support the work of the organisation.

Cary Giezekamp

Cary was first a generous benefactor of the organisation and became a Director of Life Force in 1997. Having lost his mother from cancer at the age of 17, Cary, the eldest of seven children, had a great understanding of what it’s like for people living with cancer.

His mother, Sandra, ran a support group in their home. Consequently Cary is vitally aware of the benefits of the Life Force programs.

Life Force is now run out of the offices of his family real estate business in Annandale..

Nicole Murray

Nicole has been assisting with Life Force for nearly 20 years. Nicole provides business and management insights into running organisations and managing finances.

She became a director in 2006 and is also LFCF Treasurer.

Jilly Pascoe

Following her own experience of cancer Jilly recognised the need for ongoing psychosocial care for cancer patients. With a background in counselling and group work, Jilly started the first support group in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney in 1993, with her friend Caro Jonas as co-facilitator and meditation teacher.

Shortly thereafter she formed the company and charity Life Force Foundation and expanded the services to include a range of programs for both patients and carers based on her original psychosocial model of care.

As a counsellor and educator, Jilly has led supportive care programs for people living with cancer for the past 25 years with Life Force Foundation, NSW Department of Health and in collaboration with TAFE NSW.

Jilly is pleased to take up a position on the board again from 2017.

Anastasia Melidis

Anastasia has been a supporter of Life Force for many years

Elected as a director in 2017, Anastasia will be bringing her business management skills and looking to raise funds to support Life Force programs.

Michael Parle

Michael is a clinical psychologist who has been working with people affected by life changing and life threatening illness, along with members of their treatment teams, for 25 years.

Michael first connected with Life Force in the late 90s, involving members in communication training projects for health professionals. Michael became a Director in December 2017.

He supports Life Force, recognising what a valuable connection it can provide for people living day to day with cancer.

Nina Witenden

Nina is a cancer survivor, a mother and a friend, she has benefited greatly from the support of Lifeforce while enduring the treatment and existence with a rare bone cancer. Understanding first hand the horrific path cancer can present, and in contrast the peace the support of like minded treading a similar path can give the patient, Nina wanted to give back by joining the Life Force Board.

Nina loves travel, food, wine, design and fashion, she will bring her skills from a corporate career in public relations, marketing and sales management to the team.

Nina's career as a senior manager with over 20 year’s business experience in the financial services industry, included an outstanding track record developing financial advice delivery and strategy, line management, organizational development and team leadership. Nina has a passion for talent growth and has successfully sourced, recruited and developed talent, due to a unique business success in identifying individual talent and utilizing the strengths of others to create successful, dynamic and resourceful teams.

Nina's objective is to bring her skills to the table to support this wonderful charity.

Counsellors and facilitators

Caro Jones

Caro co-founded Life Force in 1993 along with her friend Jilly Pascoe. She is a meditation, relaxation, and creative visualization teacher.

Caro has spent a lifetime developing her skills and has worked in the support groups since 1993.

She co-facilitates both support groups for patients and survivors in the Eastern Suburbs and the Inner West, as well as the carers’ group..

Enisa Kurtanovich

Enisa is a caring and multilingual counsellor & psychotherapist with a combined 19 years of experience globally, in a variety of customer focused roles. Her experience and dedication to her profession and other people is further highlighted by the many hours that she has committed to a number of voluntary based organisations.

Enisa is a valued member of Cancer Council NSW offering ongoing psycho-social support for cancer patients at Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick.

Enisa is the counselling facilitator for the Eastern Suburbs support group.

Registration Numbers and Professional Memberships:
FM (FCAN); PM (ACA);
AON No. LPS016326936
Languages spoken: Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian

Jane Gillespie

Jane joined Life Force as a member of the Eastern Suburbs group in 1995 and after completing her counselling studies, co-facilitated Life Force weekly support groups for patients and survivors as well as the carers’ group from 1998 before retiring early in 2012.

Jane was always happy to step in if one of the counselling facilitators was away on leave and towards the end of 2014, after facilitating one group for four weeks while the counsellor was away, she realised how much she missed this work. So when the opportunity arose early in 2015 for her to again take up the counselling role for the carers’ group she accepted with pleasure and since May 2015 has co-facilitated this and the Inner West patients’ and survivors’ support group.

Jane is convinced that being a member of a Life Force group saved her life and feels passionately about the value of the type of support that Life Force provides.

She believes so much in the value of this work that in her own private practice she now exclusively counsels people affected by cancer.