At the beginning of 2022, the floods in Northern NSW left many residents stranded and without electricity. During this time many people affected by cancer couldn’t get to and from treatment.
Due to the dangerous conditions, we had to pause many of our services such as Transport to Treatment drivers. Instead, our team in Northern NSW decided to try and contact all of our supporters, volunteers, fundraisers and clients in the community to check in and lend a friendly ear.
Supporting our community when they need us most
Sylvia was one of the people contacted by our Byron Bay team. She’s been an avid supporter of Cancer Council NSW for over 20 years.
The team learned that Sylvia had left her house for a routine checkup with only her handbag, unaware of what was to come. After finding some abnormalities in her appointment, Sylvia was sent to hospital to undergo emergency open heart surgery and then, the very next day, her home was flooded.
Sylvia lost everything apart from her husband’s ashes and some jewelry that her neighbours saved as the waters rose. After learning of the news, Caitlyn Feldmann, Community Lead for Northern NSW, and her team went to Sylvia’s home where they spent the day cleaning, sending essential items to her in the hospital and assessing the damage.
While Sylvia’s home is still not ready to be lived in, the work of the Cancer Council NSW team means that the cleanup will be done much faster than originally planned. Sylvia is very grateful to Caitlyn and the team and is catching up with them regularly while she lives in temporary accommodation.
After the floods: Getting people to and from cancer treatment safely
After the floods subsided, many people in affected areas still had trouble getting to cancer treatment safely due to road damage and landslides. But Cancer Council NSW Transport to Treatment drivers like Bob Harry went above and beyond to help.
One of Bob’s clients was a 91-year-old woman from Koonorigan. It would normally take about half an hour to drive her to treatment but, with all the road closures after the floods, the trip took over an hour. Thanks to Bob, this client was still able to get to and from her appointments safely.
In the first month after the floods, our Transport to Treatment drivers completed 165 volunteer hours driving over 4,585km through Lismore and Ballina. There was a massive spike in trips made in the month of March as we helped many people whose cars had been damaged in the floods.
If you or a loved one has been affected by cancer, we may be able to help with Information and Support Services. To learn more, please call us on 13 11 20, the first port of call for all of our services.