Expensive road to care

EASE THE PAIN: Shockingly inadequate patient travel subsidy schemes force sick patients and their families to spend thousands of dollars on travel to get specialised medical care - and a Griffith woman who lost her son to cancer in June says government needs to do more for those who are already suffering.

Marlene Campbell, who lost her son to cancer in June, says government isn't doing enough for those who are already doing it tough. Picture: Anthony Stipo

Marlene Campbell, who lost her son to cancer in June, says government isn't doing enough for those who are already doing it tough. Picture: Anthony Stipo

Just $43 per night is what the NSW Government allows patients from remote locations for accommodation in Sydney by far not enough.

When Marlene Campbell's son Shane was diagnosed with cancer in June last year, he was urgently sent to Sydney for treatment.

The first operation to his voice box took 16 hours and of course his family wanted to be by his side. His two sons, Luke, 26, and Joshua, 13, his partner and his mum all travelled to Sydney to support their loved one.

"We had to find our own accommodation and pay for it; we couldn't just leave him there by himself, Mrs Campbell, 73, said.

"He was sick - and he wanted company. And we wanted to be there for him."

Mrs Campbell said with her son's health quickly deteriorating, he spent four months in hospital in Sydney and even after coming home to Griffith, he constantly had to go back for treatment.

"Having to go away all the time was tough - on him, but also on us,h she said. "We were stopping in hotels and motels to be with him.

"I donft think government is doing enough to help people who are in this situation."

Mrs Campbell, who lost her husband to cancer, and whose nephew died of cancer earlier this year, said her family struggled through the last months of her son's life.

"Coping was very hard. We're now trying to get on top of things, but it still isn't easy.

"And on top of all the travel expenses we also had to pay a $12,000 funeral bill."

The mother-of-five said her distraught family would not have been able to deal with the situation without Griffith's Can Assist cancer assistance network.

"If it hadn't been for Can Assist, I don't know how we would have done it," she said.

"I would have had to draw my savings out."

"Can Assist helped fly his son's to Sydney to be with their dad for his 50th birthday - it meant a lot to him and them. But people who live in the country need more help and more support."

The humble woman said if given the chance to talk to politicians about the situation of cancer patients across the region, she would plead with them to send more specialists to the country.

Chairwomen of Griffith's Can Assist cancer charity Olga Forner said $43 per night in accommodation as part of the Governmentf subsidy scheme was simply not good enoughh.

> Read how the cancer charity helps locals in situations similar to Mrs Campbell's in next Wednesday's The Area News.

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