Cancer patient support for Bowen

CANCER patients in the Whitsundays will be given more support to cover everyday costs, while nurses are set to be upskilled, through a new program being rolled out in the region.

The support program has been established using a Community Growth Grant awarded by the QCoal Foundation.

It will cover an area that has previously not been served by existing programs, from Mackay north to Bowen and west to Clermont.

The $15,000 grant will support the Breast and Prostate Cancer Association of Queensland to establish a Patient Grants and Nurse Education Program, supporting families with the day-to-day costs as well as further education for nurses in the region.

Breast and Prostate Cancer Association of Queensland officer manager Tracey Plumridge said the small, not-for-profit company first introduced the program at a seminar in Mackay in September and then approached QCoal for assistance.

"We are thrilled to announce that QCoal Foundation has very generously supported our cause by awarding us with a $15,000 seeding grant that will allow us to immediately start providing financial assistance grants to patients in that region and offer scholarship and further education opportunities for nurses relative to breast or prostate cancer studies," she said.

"Generally they (the patients) may not be working, so our grants can help give them time to set up other support systems, like centrelink or through their employer.

"We have general financial assistance grants of up to $500 to help alleviate people experiencing financial distress whilst undergoing treatment."

Mrs Plumridge said that one of the biggest points of difference between Breast and Prostate Cancer Association of Queensland and other charities was their local community focus.

"Our point of difference from other charities is we keep the funds within the districts that they are raised in and encourage the community to support patients within their district," she said.

The charity hopes to raise some more awareness about what they do and continue raising funds to grow the program in the region.

"We try to help as many people as we can, the more funds the more people we can help," she said.

"If we can grow these funds and identify a volunteer who is willing to assist us in delivering services we may be able to increase this help.

"Some of our other volunteer committees organise pamper packs and additional assistance grants if they have sufficient funds to provide that."

QCoal Foundation CEO Sylvia Bhatia said the QCoal Foundation was drawn to the unique nature of this program and its support of rural communities like Bowen.

"The QCoal Foundation felt that the funding would benefit many patients and health professionals across the region by stepping in where other programs do not exist or are not available," she said.

"The QCoal Foundation understand the challenge facing patients from towns like Bowen, particularly when they have to travel for treatment, so we hope this support will go some way to alleviate that burden. ​"

Mrs Plumridge said the breast care nurses or the urology nurses would identify the patients in need of support and the help of the grants.

Patients living with breast or prostate cancer can apply via the Mackay Breast Care Nurses Liz Drefke and Karen Linich or Jenny Kelly the urology nurse at Mackay Base Hospital. Patients can also enquire via our office at or phone 3666 0614.

QCoal have also recently awarded a further $2000 Community Spirit Grant, to the Bowen Cancer Support Group.

These funds will supplement a larger fund that will help the group provide education packs to newly diagnosed cancer patients in Bowen and surrounding communities.

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