We’ve helped ease the burden for country South Australians having cancer treatment.
For someone living in country South Australia, the challenge of having cancer treatment in Adelaide may be overwhelming and some may be less likely to undertake or complete treatment, than people living in the city.
Cancer Council Lodge provides these people with supportive and affordable accommodation while they are undergoing cancer treatment in Adelaide.
The Dry July Foundation supporters have proudly provided Cancer Council Lodge with over $242,200 over the past two years. This has helped to refurbish the dining rooms in both lodges with furniture and refurbished over 15 rooms.
Cancer Council Lodge has made a big difference to real people
For John and Janet Haywood, Kangaroo Island was an idyllic place to live, but when Janet was given a confronting cancer diagnosis requiring urgent treatment, their world was thrown into turmoil. Cancer Council Lodge not only solved many practical issues, but became their ‘home away from home’ during an exceptionally challenging time.
This is John’s story…
Janet had always been blessed with perfect health. We were both “fit as Mallee bulls”, so when she was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer it knocked my socks off.
She’d had no symptoms prior to that except for persistent reflux. In less than a week we saw doctors, specialists, and ended up in Adelaide for an urgent CT scan. We were given the devastating news that the cancer had spread to her stomach and Janet needed surgery and chemotherapy urgently.
We didn’t know how long it would take but were overwhelmed when told it would be 63 days of chemo, two weeks rest, two weeks for the operation, another two weeks rest, and then another 63 days of chemo. Amidst the shock and the worry, my head was swimming with all of the logistics of leaving home for so long.
I hoped to have at least a week to sort everything out. There was our new puppy to relocate and almost an acre of garden (Janet’s pride and joy) to care for, let alone organising accommodation, transport and everything else, but we had five days before Janet’s treatment would begin.
We’re very close with our children, but couldn’t consider staying with them for such a long time, particularly as they were renovating and have small kids. At our daughter’s suggestion, we called Cancer Council SA and from the first conversation with Anne, the heavy load became lighter.
During the 10 months that we stayed at Cancer Council Lodge, Janet endured intense therapy, made more confronting by the fact that she had an allergic reaction to one type of treatment and needed weekly monitoring in the oncology ward.
In between the two rounds of chemo, she underwent surgery to remove her full stomach and part of her oesophagus. It was an intense, exhausting and emotional ride every day seeing my wife so unwell and being unable to control any of it. But it was made bearable by staying in such a compassionate environment.
Janet was unable to go far, so we’d often sit in the foyer and enjoy the companionship of the staff, including Anne and Faye in reception, Ravi who manages the properties and Jo who provided counselling.
I was so busy concentrating on Janet during this time that I probably wouldn’t have sought out counselling for myself. Having that service at the Lodge gave me the opportunity to deal with my own emotions and got me through some tough times.
The transport service to and from the hospital was worth a million bucks. It was also a relief (and big saving) not having to worry about parking in the city for the treatments.
Having our own space was invaluable. It was therapeutic to have the ‘normality’ of being able to cook ourselves meals and on the rare occasion that we didn’t, the chefs in the Lodge cooked lovely meals and catered where possible for Janet’s new dietary needs. I also kept myself busy, helping out with making up the rooms, planting bulbs and doing maintenance in the garden. Doing these things helped me to feel normal, during such a surreal time.
Despite a few complications since, Janet’s prognosis is excellent and there are no signs of anything else nasty. I can’t imagine how we would have got through those 10 intense months without the option of staying at the Lodge.
With living expenses and the cost of treatment and Janet’s operation, we couldn’t have stayed in a hotel for 10 months and having this option reduced our distress greatly. Above all, you couldn’t put a price on the supportive environment, and whenever we’re back in Adelaide we always pop in to say hi.
Cancer Council Lodge played a huge role in helping us get through the treatment that has ultimately given me more time with my beautiful wife.