Helen Bryant has only recently finished treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma but she felt compelled to tell her story to support the local Cancer Action Group’s push for a second nurse in Cowra Hospital’s Oncology unit.
Mrs Bryant, who finished her cancer treatment in February, wants the community to know just how important a second Oncology trained registered nurse is for Cowra.
“It is ridiculous that we have to fight for something like this,” she said.
“It is extremely important that you do not have to travel for treatment. It is a cruel experience everytime you have to travel.”
This experience is at the heart of the Cowra and District Cancer Action Group’s push for a second Oncology trained nurse.
Currently, when the Hospital’s only Oncology trained nurse takes annual or sick leave or has to attend training, the ward closes down, forcing patients to travel to other centres, including Sydney, for their treatment.
This comes at a time when patients are too ill to travel but have no other option.
Diagnosed in August 2011 with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Mrs Bryant was initially treated at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney but was fortunate to have treatment in Cowra.
Having to spend time at Orange Hospital made Mrs Bryant even more aware of the importance of being able to have treatment in Cowra.
“We don’t want to have to travel,” Mrs Bryant said.
“Why push everyone to bigger towns? They’re overloaded anyway. You end up waiting and waiting to get your turn.”
Every 21 days she had six treatments with powerful drugs, which can only be administered by a trained Oncology nurse, for six hours at a time.
“[When you travel] It’s just like travel sickness. Your nerves are shot to bits [from the treatment] anyway...your just a mess.
“People want to be around their family and friends [when they are having treatment].”
The campaign for a second Oncology nurse is gaining momentum with Member for Burrinjuck, Katrina Hodgkinson has written to the Cowra and District Cancer Action Group advising them she has made a representation to the Western Local Health District‘s Chief Executive Officer Ron Dunham on their behalf and is awaiting a response.