I live in a small town in Queensland's Central West, 600km west of Rockhampton. It's a great, friendly community; one of the reasons I am so happy living here.
I needed that friendship and support when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2008, especially as my family lives 700km away in Mackay.
Living out here, it's a given that people have to go away for medical treatment and I was no exception. I had an ultrasound in Emerald, 300km away; then a mammogram and biopsy in Rockhampton. I chose to have my treatment in Mackay so I could have the support of my family. I had surgery, went home to recover, then drove in six times for chemotherapy, a round trip of 1400km each time.
Six weeks of radiation treatment followed. We decided to have this in Brisbane (2100km from home) as we would have the support of extended family and friends there.
For most of my chemo doses, we decided it was best for our children to stay with friends out here and keep to their usual routine. Each time we left them behind it was a wrench.
Sometimes, the last thing I felt like doing every three weeks was organising for them to stay with someone, pack their bags, let the school know what was happening, get someone to feed the cat and collect the mail.
I felt quite concerned when I first came home after surgery, being so far away from my doctors, but when I found out that there was a Breast Care Nurse nearby, I felt a whole lot better. Her support has been outstanding and she is the driving force behind our fledgling support group which covers the entire central west region. We only meet quarterly because of the distances involved in getting together.
My story is not unique; there are many others who have been through the same. I love living in this part of the country; the benefits outweigh the disadvantages every time.
-- Sue, QLD