Meeting other cancer patients was “the best tonic” Alan could ask for

Alan CCQ Townsville client

I was diagnosed with prostate cancer about three months ago.

After several tests, it was decided the best course of action would be radiation treatment five days a week for four weeks.

Like many Queenslanders, I live in a small regional town. Travelling for treatment every day was not an option for me.

From home, the trip would’ve been 130km each way over roads that seem to be eternally under construction, and I now know my body wouldn’t have been able to handle the journey. Once the side effects from treatment settled in, well… let’s just say my car’s upholstery wouldn’t have fared well.

This is where Cancer Council Queensland stepped in and had my back.

The nurse at my local hospital linked me up with their accommodation, making it possible for me to travel into the city for treatment on Monday, stay in their unit throughout the week, and travel home on Friday.

My home away from home had all the mod-cons you could want: kitchen, dining, ensuite and even a washing machine! But the best bit was, the unit remained mine even when I went home for the weekend… it was my own ‘home away from home’.

Needless to say, the accommodation was marvellous. But it was meeting others who shared what I was going through that compelled me to write this letter.

The day I arrived I was told there was a meeting that evening at the recreational area. Naturally, I bowled down there to see what it was all about. It was nothing formal. Someone had cooked a stew, and we all just sat around and talked.

I initially felt quite depressed, but the discussions with the other patients lifted my spirits like nothing else. They were just ordinary people who discussed their illnesses and diagnoses openly and freely, and some were quite sick indeed – sicker than me.

I found comfort in listening to their stories and getting to know them. Their hopes, dreams and aspirations I found enlightening and personally, uplifting. It was the best tonic one could ask for.

I cannot stress the importance of these meetings enough. Because of them, I discovered I was not alone. Should you ever be diagnosed with a similar complaint, I urge you to attend them.

As for the staff there, what can I say? They were brilliant. Katie, Robyn and Anthea, all three are just wonderful people. They were there always in the background if you needed anything. Whatever you wanted was never a problem. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

To sum up, my stay at Cancer Council Queensland’s accommodation was fantastic. I met people who normally I would never meet, learned and enjoyed their company, and received gratefully all they could tell me, as well as the reassurance that I was not alone.

Although the outcome of my treatment is still unknown, as strange as this may sound…I actually enjoyed every moment of this experience. For that, I thank every person I met through Cancer Council Queensland’s accommodation lodges.

Alan is back at home, letting his body settle down as he awaits his treatment results in October. He will celebrate his 80th birthday next month.

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