Lodge offers home-away-from-home for Hervey Bay cancer patient

People travel far and wide to spend an afternoon with cancer patient Keith Fallick. There’s a warmth to him.

He loves his horse-racing, the St George Illawarra Dragons, his wife Dawn and he genuinely has an appreciation of life and care for others, despite the challenges he faces from throat cancer.

The team at Cancer Council Queensland’s Charles Wanstall Apex Lodge have enjoyed their time with Keith during his seven week stay and it’s easy to understand why – Keith seems to make friends wherever he goes.

“I ran into a bloke at the TAB and we started talking and when he found out I had cancer, he travelled from the Sunshine Coast to see me,” he said.

“It’s been really eye-opening to see the support. It’s amazing how the community rally behind each other.”

The Hervey Bay local has been staying at Charles Wanstall Apex Lodge after a four-centimetre tumour was found behind his tongue.

“Staying at the lodge has really taken a load off my mind,” he said.

It was a switch in breakfast cereal that was the catalyst for Mr Fallick discovering the throat cancer.

“I usually have porridge for breakfast, but this particular morning I had cornflakes and because of its sharp edges I had a mouthful of blood and I knew something was wrong,” he said.

A biopsy confirmed the cancer and Mr Fallick would need travel to Royal Brisbane Hospital to undergo seven lots of chemotherapy, 35 radiation sessions and have a PEG Feeding Tube inserted.

Mr Fallick admits to being neglectful of his health and would rarely follow up on any issues he was having.

“My advice is to listen to your body rather than assume things will be okay,” he said.

During his seven-weeks at Charles Wanstall Apex Lodge Mr Fallick’s wife Dawn became his carer and she would be busy crushing 16 tablets a day to feed him through the tube.

“It’s been so helpful to be able to stay here with Keith and take the courtesy bus to Royal Brisbane Hospital,” Mrs Fallick said.

Cancer patients like Keith often need to travel from remote and regional areas to access life-saving cancer treatment they wouldn’t otherwise receive, so Cancer Council Queensland operates six accommodation lodges state-wide for Queensland cancer patients and their carers to stay at for little to no out-of-pocket costs.

In 2018 Charles Wanstall Apex Lodge accommodated about 1140 patients and their carers, also providing 8,450 nights of subsidised accommodation and 1,450 bus trips to and from the hospital for treatment.

Click here for more information about Cancer Council Queensland’s accommodation lodges.