In early December 2019, Gympie resident Martha Parsons heard three heart-stopping words, which would ultimately change her life “You have cancer”.
Mrs Parsons has been diagnosed with stage three adenocarcinoma – lung cancer, with a one-centimetre tumor which had spread to 2 lymph nodes. Her treatment would begin with chemotherapy and a course of radiotherapy, which would need to be administered five days a week, for seven weeks.
For cancer patients within the Caloundra to Tin Can Bay region, radiation therapy is only administered at the Adem Crosby Centre within the Sunshine Coast University Hospital. Therefore, Gympie farmers Mr and Mrs Parsons were faced with lengthy drives every weekday for treatment, allowing two-hours travel time to attend appointments on time.
“With my first cycle of chemotherapy, the fatigue set in, with the radiation therapy I’m just tired all the time. Over the past couple of days, my bones – they just ache, it’s hard to walk or do anything. Not that I am one to complain,” Mrs Parsons said.
“All you want to do, is have your family with you… To have somewhere that you could stay, so close to the hospital and somewhere that the family could stay as well, would just be 100% the best.”
It’s not only the physical and emotional strain that is taking its toll, there is also a huge financial burden, with the pair having to stop work, in order for Mr Parsons to drive his wife to and from her daily treatments. “We have had to go on unemployment benefits, just the fuel alone in driving down here is insane” Mrs Parsons said. “We have talked about staying in a motel when I get really bad, but that means we would have to eat takeaway every night and we just can’t afford that”.
Mrs Parsons described Wishlist House as a huge help for patients in her situation. “To have a place like that, so close to the hospital with all the cooking facilities is just amazing” she said.
“It’s very mentally draining. All you want to do is have your family with you. You don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know if you are going to get cured. To have somewhere that you could stay, so close to the hospital and somewhere that the family could stay as well, would just be 100% the best.”
The pair thanked the local community for their support. “To contribute to something of this magnitude, in today’s day and age is just astounding,” Mr Parsons added. “For the community who have done all of this for Wishlist, for ordinary people like us; and we are just your normal ‘joe-blow farmers,’ to have a place like that where you can come down and be comfortable, so close to the hospital, your treatment is here and you will be able to have your family, it would be unbelievable.”