HARD TIMES: Carolyn Sforcina has survived two different breast cancers and says the frequent travel for medical treatment was a financial strain.
HARD TIMES: Carolyn Sforcina has survived two different breast cancers and says the frequent travel for medical treatment was a financial strain. Scott Powick Twecancer

Cancer is a battle

A SURVIVOR of two breast cancers says people in rural areas struggle to understand the burden of seeking treatment until they have to get it themselves.

Murwillumbah resident Carolyn Sforcina was diagnosed with a form of breast cancer in 2006. Two years later she had her right breast removed, before six more cancers were discovered requiring further treatment.

Four years on and she still has to travel to John Flynn Hospital at Tugun for treatment every three months.

"I really had the support of my family, but I don't know how some people can survive emotionally," she said. "Until you are in that position, you really don't know the costs involved in getting to places for treatment."

Mrs Sforcina said that at the height of her treatment, she was travelling more than 2000km a month.

"When I was getting radiation treatment it was every day to John Flynn hospital for 30 days," she said. "Physically the travel does wear you down."

Mrs Sforcina said increasing the travel subsidies was great news for rural people requiring cancer treatment.

The Cancer Council's Alstonville office has also welcomed the move to improve the Isolated Patient and Accommodation Assistance Scheme.

Cancer Council Far North Coast regional manager Michael Cannon said the announcement would be a relief for patients facing large travel costs to access life-saving treatment.

"Cancer Council NSW has been pushing for this announcement for a long time and we're delighted that patients will now receive a 30% boost in their accommodation subsidy and a 25% boost in petrol subsides," he said.



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