Many families, cancer charity Redkite AIDS, travel more than 100km for treatment – but shoppers can lend a hand.
A third of the families that support Redkite, the pediatric cancer charity, have to travel more than 100 km in a single trip to access treatment – but help is at hand.
A review of a decade of family travel data by Redkite shows the impact distance to services has.
The further a parent travels for their child’s cancer treatment, the greater the impact on their emotional well-being and financial burden.
Faye Gerrey and her family, from Wollongong, are part of a quarter of NSW families who regularly drive more than 100km to take a child to hospital.
In May last year, her daughter Charli, then 9, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She has been on intensive chemotherapy for almost a year, with another six months of treatment ahead of her.
“The family has been running on adrenaline since Charli’s diagnosis,” says Ms Gerrey.
“There have been many tears – hers and mine.
“Charli has been hospitalized more times than we can remember. I’ve lost count of the miles I’ve driven…it must be thousands.”
With the support of Redkite, Mrs. Gerrey was able to pay the bills, groceries and petrol.
“Redkite social workers helped my family navigate the traumatic new world of childhood cancer we were thrown into,” she says.
There are only eight hospitals in Australia that treat pediatric cancer. Families sometimes have to travel to the highway to access.
“Families go through long and expensive car journeys with a nervous and sick child,” said Redkite’s Emmy McIntosh.
“Rural and remote families often have to separate for weeks, sometimes years, with a parent and their child moving to a house in a new area.
“These changes are costly, disrupt family life and can be a huge cultural shift from rural to urban life and away from key support people, community and culture.”
Since 2019, Coles Express customers and team members have donated more than $2 million to support families living with childhood cancer.
From today until December 12, Australians can support Redkite by rounding purchases at Coles Express box offices up to the nearest dollar.
Funds will help Redkite’s essential financial and mental health support for families.
“Coles Express is passionate about supporting the community and our team members are thrilled to be behind Coles Express Redkite Week to help families,” said Coles Express executive GM Michael Courtney.