A VENTURE to transform a Two Rocks home into accommodation for regional cancer patients accessing treatment could help save lives.
Jo Holding said she felt driven to help when she heard that patients unable to pay out-of-pocket accommodation costs were sleeping in their cars or stopping their treatment.
The Two Rocks-Yanchep Assisted Cancer Travels (TRYACT) co-founder is offering four private rooms for the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme (PATS) allowance, as well as transport to and from appointments.
She said there was a shortage of “appropriate” accommodation for country cancer patients with none existing in Perth’s far north.
“If they live more than 100km from their treatment, they get an allowance from PATS for $60 a night to find accommodation,” Ms Holding said.
“They then have to find the difference which could be over $70 a night and around $500 a week.
“These people not only miss their family and friends, they still have their rent or mortgage to pay while they’re away having treatment, which could take up to three months.
“They’re unable to work so where does the extra money come from? Some people are not getting the treatment and I was told that a lady was sleeping in her car so that she could get her treatment.”
Ms Holding approached Joondalup’s Genesis CancerCare to get her project off the ground and they are now in talks with local businesses and residents about donations of goods and services for the lodge to open in November.
But more is still needed for the former Two Rocks Road bed-and-breakfast, including reverse-cycle airconditioning for patient comfort, and landscaping.
Ms Holding said any offers of finance and work would be greatly appreciated.
“It’s taking away the stress of not having to find another $500 a week wherever they try to stay – that’s how I feel I can help,” she said.
“I just want to stop people dying because they can’t get to their treatment.
“I’ve only got four beds, but they’re like hotel rooms and I think if they feel like they’re more on holiday it will make them feel better straight away.”
She will set up an alternative therapy room for carers and patients to access free massage, reflexology, reiki and facials.
TRYACT president Sue Dash said calls from residents outside of the area seeking transport for patients in Lancelin, Seabird and other towns had also prompted Ms Holding into action.
Genesis CancerCare marketing and relationship manager Aileen Eiszele said a number of their doctors held clinics in rural areas and were only too aware of the difficulties facing people needing to travel to Perth for often-lengthy cancer treatment.
“Genesis CancerCare is delighted to be working with Jo to support the lodge and provide a home away from home for patients in need,” she said.
“Jo is such a selfless lady who thinks more about others and their needs ahead of her own.
“Together, we intend to create a safe and comfortable place that cancer patients can call their home away from home by the sea.”
Ms Eiszele said they still needed a 12-seater mini bus, bedding, curtains, barbecue, gas heater, seated chair lift, a dining table and outdoor blinds.