Need for cancer centre is huge

THE chair of a local cancer charity says more has to be done to support cancer patients in the bush.

Can Assist chairwoman Olga Forner said residents in the Griffith area were "not privileged enough" to receive adequate treatment.

"Our cancer assistance network helps people from Griffith, Darlington Point, Rankins Springs and Binya.

"In the last couple of years we've spent $160,000 to assist people with travel and accommodation costs, but the situation local cancer patients and their families find themselves in is just not good enough."

Mrs Forner said locals diagnosed with cancer would not only face the struggle of coming to terms with their diagnosis, but were being let down by the health system.

"We're talking about seriously sick people and they're left with the constant worry of having to travel all the way to Sydney for treatment," Mrs Forner said.

"They cannot stay in their own supportive environment where family and friends are, they're being sent away."

"And then they have to worry about cancellation of appointments or whether there will be a bed available for them when they get to Sydney."

Mrs Forner said while Griffith Hospital's Oncology clinic was "terrific", cancer treatment would not stop with simply chemo.

"The need for a radiation facility is so strong in Griffith.

"And better medical facilities would not only ease the stress for patients and their families, it would also enhance the economy of the community."

The Can Assist chair said the charity organisation had about 160 locals on their books, but providing support was a daily challenge.

"We have five volunteers working for Can Assist and the community and local businesses are a great help when it comes to donations, but it is a huge task to keep the ball rolling."

Often the organisation would be left out of pocket for more than three months while waiting for subsidy travel repayments for patients.

"We help patients with their travel and accommodation costs so they don't have to bear all the costs, but only $43 per night is covered by the government's isolated patient travel scheme and often we have to wait months for the repayments," Mrs Forner said.

She said encouraging specialists to visit the area more often would be a first step in the right direction to support local cancer patients and the government had to "act now".

> To support Mrs Forner's work for those suffering from cancer, you can donate directly to Can Assist Griffith at Westpac Bank BSB: 032 707, account: 230 893.

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