Help ease the burden

Tuesday 28 January, 2020

Photo caption: Lynne has thyroid cancer and finds some of the costs challenging.

Lynne lives in Benalla with her partner. She has Thyroid cancer, which has metastasised to her bones and lungs.

“We're both in our 70s and we have to factor all this into our pension," she said.

“We have to be very budget conscious, but we manage.”

She was already under the care of cardiologists at St Vincent’s and so chose to have her cancer treated there too.

“I don't have access in town to the specialist services so if I chose to have the cancer dealt with locally it would almost certainly have to be either Wangaratta (32kms) or the cancer centre up in Albury (118kms) and either one of those to me would be more difficult than going to Melbourne to see the people I'm used to."

Lynne and her partner take the train and then a tram, which takes about four hours door to door.

“I see five different specialists at St Vincent’s and because they all want to see me more than once a year, it gets quite involved with travel and accommodation," she said. "Train fares are normally somewhere around $85 return for the two of us and then we can be looking at $200-$260 a night and often that's two or three nights in a row.

“So, over the course of the year it's several thousand dollars, it's not just a few hundred.”

“I think what's really lacking in metropolitan areas is some clean, inexpensive accommodation for country patients who are in my position. It's really hard to find those things at a reasonable price and usually when you do, they're booked out weeks ahead anyway. It's challenging.

“It would help to ease the burden if there could be some system available for (especially, but not exclusively) accommodation support.”

ACTION: Cancer Council has made a submission to the Victorian Cancer Plan to reduce the cost of cancer and enhance subsidies for rural Victorians. Learn more.

The hidden cost associated with parking, travel and accommodation for cancer treatment is a burden felt particularly by these patients, which has an impact on psychosocial and financial wellbeing. The Victorian Government subsidises some travel and accommodation costs incurred by eligible rural Victorians through the  Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme (VPTAS). 

Four years into her cancer treatment, Lynne hadn’t been advised about VPTAS - until now. 

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If you’ve been affected by cancer and would like to use your experience to help others, please register your interest. 

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