Mission of mercy

By LYNDAL GAWEN

DON Williamson is not complaining, in fact he sees his predicament as much better than many others in Rockhampton. But he doesn't see the sense in sick people going to Brisbane for treatment.

Diagnosed with prostate cancer and bone cancer (officially known as secondary bone metastatic disease) 18 months ago, Mr Williamson now must drive to Brisbane when the pain becomes unbearable.

The radiation treatment he receives is not to cure the cancer ? he has been given one to five years to live ? but to kill the pain he gets in his bones.

For each person who has to go to Brisbane for radiation treatment the situation is different.

"We're lucky, we have a house down there,'' he said, which cuts back on some of the cost of a standard 10week treatment.

The house is a 40-minute drive from the Brisbane Mater Hospital where Mr Williamson is treated, so instead of taking the government flight to the capital he drives.

The catch with the drive is that it contributes to the pain. "Travelling back from Brisbane is painful and sets the treatment back, so it's a catch-22,'' he said.

These unnecessary costs and inconveniences can be considered some of the aggravations of the disease.

The real heartache and hardships begin with the loss of support from family and friends at a time when they are needed the most.

"One of the days I got treatment, the last day I had it ... it drained me of so much strength I had to drag myself up off the table,'' Mr Williamson recalled.

"I had to take two sleeps on the drive home,'' from the hospital to his Brisbane residence.

"You need people who love you and care for you to be around,'' he said.

"I'm just fortunate I've got a place in Brisbane to stay in, but the amount of people who haven't is bloody astronomical.



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