Cobar residents Karen and Shane Haddy have thrown their support behind the push to have a Cancer Centre in Dubbo.
After having been diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer last September, Karen and husband Shane know first hand what’s involved in having cancer treatment for people who live in the west.
The couple have been travelling to Dubbo each week for the past six months for Karen’s chemotherapy sessions and when she starts her radiation, they’ll need to go to Orange.
“Radiation is Monday to Friday, it might only be a 10 or 15 minute visit but it’s every day for six weeks. I’ve got to go and live in Orange for six weeks, I can’t just come back and forwards,” she said.
She said if there was a Cancer Centre in Dubbo that offered radiation, palliative care and all sorts of cancer specialists, it would not only benefit her but many other people in Western NSW who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Karen and Shane have joined up to support a social media campaign organised by Lyn Smith from the Rotary Club of West Dubbo and Frances Peters-Little from the non-for-profit Jimmy Little Foundation.
Lyn said after hearing a talk last year from medial oncologist Dr Florian Honeyball from Dubbo Base Hospital they were prompted to start raising funds for a PET-CT scanner.
“But it sort of got a bit broader,” Lyn said.
After having organised coverage through newspapers and radio, Lyn said they decided to widen their audience and started a Facebook Cancer Centre for Dubbo campaign.
“In only three weeks, we’ve had over 88,000 visits and 6,500 likes,” Lyn said.
She said they have had comments and ‘selfies’ from people in Dubbo, Sydney, Narromine, Wellington, Coonabarabran, Cobar, Gilgandra and Coonamble.
Lyn said having a Cancer Centre in Dubbo would be of benefit to many people.
“There are not many people treated in Dubbo now, they all have to go to Sydney. You’ve only got to go to a cancer waiting room at Royal North Shore or RPA and see how many country people are there.”
Lyn said if you live in Cobar and you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you’ll probably have to go to Sydney; you’re already sick; you have to leave your job and family behind; take someone with you to care for you; then there’s expensive transport and accommodation costs; and you’re in an unfamiliar area with no help and no support.
“It’s all about the way people feel,” she said.
Lyn said there are cancer centres in other regional areas such as Albury, Wagga Wagga, Tamworth and Lismore while “Dubbo is the gap in the middle”.
“If we had better facilities here we could attract specialists.
“We currently only have one full time oncologist with Dr Honeyball.
“We could increase the staffing here if we had the facility,” she said.
Lyn said if Cobar residents want to lend their support on Facebook they could post a ‘selfie’, write about how someone’s life could have been better if they had of been able to have treatment in Dubbo, ‘Like’ the page or sign the petition which will be out soon.
Figures from The Cancer Institute of NSW predict that in 2016 in the Western NSW region alone, 1,818 people will be diagnosed with cancer (28 of those will be in Cobar) with 582 deaths expected.