Funding required for treatment in Shepparton

January 04, 2018

Cancer sufferer Rosie Roberts.

Cancer sufferer Rosie Roberts with her son Will, 12, and daughter Sophie, 9, is calling on the Victorian Government to make the planned radiotherapy facility in Shepparton accessible to all.

Rosie Roberts has been building her strength for the past few months in preparation for a course of radiotherapy treatment.

Next week, that course will begin in Bendigo and will involve her travelling for treatment five days a week, for six weeks straight.

‘‘There are people out there that have it worse ... it could be terminal, mine’s more positive,’’ Mrs Roberts says.

In March, Mrs Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer and described it as more than just shock and surprise.

‘‘I was a bit vague about it all,’’ she said.

‘‘They found a lump in my armpit ... the size of a golf ball, so pretty prominent.’’

But Mrs Roberts said the worst part was being told she needed to have six months of intensive chemotherapy.

She had heard about the side affects including nausea and the high chance she would lose her hair.

‘‘The oncology (department) in Shepparton do a marvellous job; I can’t thank them enough,’’ Mrs Roberts said.

‘‘Their programs like ‘look good, feel good’ were great.’’

Upon completion of the treatment, she had a lumpectomy to remove the remains of the tumour.

Since the lumpectomy surgery in November, Mrs Roberts has been building her health as best she can, but the next six weeks will be tough.

‘‘I’ll have to travel every day, I can’t stay in Bendigo because I have young children who are on school holidays,’’ she said.

‘‘You really don’t know you need these services in the area until it happens to someone you know.’’

In November, it was announced radiation oncology provider GenesisCare had secured a $6.95million Federal Government grant to establish radiotherapy services in Shepparton.

The funding model for the service is yet to be confirmed, but Mrs Roberts said the Victorian Government needed to adequately fund it.

She would not be able to afford the treatment in Shepparton if it was a private service and would still be forced to travel to Bendigo.

‘‘I don’t have private health cover ... so it would be too expensive,’’ she said.

‘‘You can do the right thing and still get cancer, I have no family history and have never smoked.’’

The GenesisCare-run Albury Cancer Centre receives funding for full public access and Mrs Roberts said if they had it ‘‘why couldn’t we?’’.

State Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell shared Mrs Roberts’ story in parliament in December, calling it another example of why the proposed radiotherapy services need to be supported by the Victorian Government.

‘‘Rosie and many other patients like her would simply be unable to afford the cost of receiving treatment in Shepparton,’’ she said.

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