We need to be able to fight cancer here

December 06, 2017

Radiotherapy campaign: Kyabram's Leanne Beck and her grandson Taelan Harding, 20mts, have joined the push.

IT WAS approaching 10pm one night when Leanne Beck received a phone call from her specialist.

She recently had a small lump removed from under her arm, but at 37 it was the last thing on her mind.

She was asked to sit down with her husband, put the phone on loud speaker and listen carefully to the news.

The dreaded six-letter word surfaced — cancer.

Shock, devastation and numbness were the first feelings which flooded Mrs Beck.

‘‘I didn’t know what to do,’’ the Kyabram resident, now 53, said.

‘‘I was involved in committees and other community things in town, the news just put a stop to everything.’’

With the help of her husband and three young children aged eight, 12 and 14 — life went on as normally as it possibly could.

Chemotherapy was tough, losing her hair and being extremely ill and nauseous for an entire week was just the start.

‘‘The kids were young and busy, so it kept me out and about,’’ Mrs Beck said.

A partial mastectomy was done, the tumour was removed and chemotherapy at the Peter Copulos Wellness Centre at Goulburn Valley Health was a success — she was in remission.

But in 2013 — more than 10 years after she was first diagnosed with breast cancer — it returned.

‘‘Within that time I was always having check-ups... it was not as much of a shock but more so ‘here we go again’,’’ Mrs Beck said.

This time, Mrs Beck underwent a lumpectomy operation in Melbourne to remove the tumour, with her specialist recommending an intensive course of radiotherapy to save her life.

‘‘It was more localised so it was easier to deal with,’’ she said.

Knowing there were no radiotherapy services close to home, Mrs Beck needed to be treated in Bendigo.

Because of the substantial waiting time in Bendigo, her surgeon made it clear she did not have the time — considering it was her second bout of cancer.

The urgency of the treatment meant a private radiotherapy clinic in Epping was the only option.

Seventy-odd trips back and forth for seven consecutive weeks with family, friends and her children was more than a minor inconvenience.

‘‘Everyone’s inconvenienced, not just me, the fact that you’re in and out of the car non-stop,’’ Mrs Beck said.

She travelled every day — a four-hour round trip just to receive a 10-minute treatment.

The travel meant she had to give up work and her husband could not take her as his business was the family’s only source of income.

‘‘I saw people in Epping walk into the clinic in their work uniforms, if only we had something in the Goulburn Valley it would make life so much better,’’ Mrs Beck said.

‘‘There is a big need for radiotherapy services here, it would help make your life just a bit more normal.

‘‘Not just for the patients but for the entire community, the patient’s family members, friends and workplaces would all benefit enormously.’’

 - Hayden Thompson

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