REGIONAL cancer patients are often treated as poor cousins of their city counterparts and miss out on a variety of treatments only available at major urban hospitals.
In 2005, Tweed Hospital's Professor Ethesham Abdi took up the challenge to offer local patients a level of treatment comparable with the care available in metropolitan centres.
Professor Abdi started clinical trials sponsored by the NSW Cancer Institute and ultimately involving about 600 patients, with the aim to provide local cancer sufferers with new drugs and treatments.
"We aim to offer the regional population with treatments which improve the quality of life and the chances of recovery.
"Research has shown that regional patients' survival rate is inferior because there aren't enough doctors, nurses and treatments available.
"Tweed hospital, for instance, doesn't offer local cancer patients radiation therapy and they need to go to John Flynn hospital across the border," Professor Abdi said.
Professor Abdi said his research was under threat from government budget cuts and he faced a reduction in funding of about 50%.
"It's not as bad as it could be.
"Some research projects have had their funding cancelled totally.
"We have to rely on donations from other sources such as the public and from drug companies.
"However, once you start doing things the right way, drug companies come to you," Professor Abdi said.
Although the professor's work is becoming more difficult through the lack of available funds, a group of local women who have had close encounters with cancer, has stepped up and started a cooperative, especially and exclusively to raise funds for Professor Abdi's research.
'In the Company of Angels' is a shop run by five local cancer survivors who provide a one-stop-shop for women's needs including fashion, alterations, tarot card readings, beauty therapy and Reiki.
Over the last three weeks, the coop has raised close to $2,000 and today delivered a cheque to the professor at Tweed hospital's oncology unit.
Coop leader Wendy Tapp said the group would put on a fundraising event for Professor Abdi to coincide with the Tweed River Festival this Saturday at the Ivory Tavern in Tweed Heads.
The event will start at 2.00 pm and include a fashion parade, raffle, finger food and family photography.
Entry will be $5 per person with all proceeds going to Professor Abdi's research at Tweed hospital.
The cooperative's shop will continue to offer its wares until February next year and is located at 39 Minjungbal Drive, Tweed Heads.