Patient Transport To Enhance Gympie Care

16 May 2024

In June last year, Gympie resident Jenny King was diagnosed with aggressive, grade three, triple negative invasive ductile breast cancer.

With an already complicated health journey - being on blood thinners and previously diagnosed with Lupus - it did not make her treatment any easier.

“It took me to towards the end of treatment to actually say the word cancer," Jenny explains. 

"It's just unreal, and I can't grasp it."

Jenny was getting dressed one day and came across a hard lump, which the doctors found to be breast cancer.

"The doctors told me it was good that I found it then because if I had waited until my next mammogram, it would have been a completely different story. 

“Tears filled my eyes, I couldn’t comprehend the reality of it, it's been a very difficult time.

"I had no idea what to expect, I just thought I'd have chemo, come home and do a bit of my craft, but it wasn't like that at all.”

Jenny’s journey began with a Porter Catheter surgery at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital (SCUH), which later led to a stroke called a Transient Ischemic Attack due to Jenny being off blood thinners prior to the surgery.

“I spent a week in hospital and that was just the beginning."

Jenny underwent an arduous chemotherapy schedule, with her husband driving 180km daily to get her to appointments at the SCUH.

“We’re one of the fortunate ones because my husband and I are retired, so he was able to drive me to all my appointments.”

Gympie residents needing specialist and urgent appointments are usually treated at SCUH, and for most, it is a difficult feat to make the trip for reasons such as not being able to leave their property, having to look after animals at home, and not having friends or family able to drive them.

“I’m overwhelmed with how many people have cancer and need treatment, and for the Gympie community it’s really difficult with needing treatment at SCUH.

"Some people stop treatment because it is too much strain on their family.

“The Wishlist Patient Transport Service would be a real blessing to the community.”

Proceeds from the sale of Wishlist House Gympie later this year will benefit Gympie Hospital patients and families by funding a dedicated transport service to connect locals with specialist care on the Sunshine Coast and provide supported accommodation. 

The 22-seater bus is expected to operate on a set timetable five days a week with two return journeys per day from Gympie Hospital to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital and Nambour General Hospital.

Because of Jenny's complicated health history, she needed to have surgery at SCUH rather than Gympie Hospital. 

Jenny and her husband stayed at Wishlist Centre the night before her surgery to ensure they were on time.

“Wishlist Centre is just so handy and it's comforting to know that people haven't got a drive home that night after treatment.

"The volunteers all just seem so lovely, and they're committed to what they do. It's a nice home away from home.”

Jenny’s daughter, Renae King, is raising funds for Wishlist to help fund accommodation for patients and families facing a health crisis and needing to stay close to the hospital.

“At the moment I'm cancer free, but it could always come back – I just try and live the best I can while I can," Jenny says. 

Jenny spends her time with family, doing crafts, and hanging out with her Budgee, Monte, but her health journey seems to be never ending.

“It has been ongoing because when chemo finishes, that's not the end – there are all these after-effects."

Jenny continues to struggle with her blood levels and visits SCUH for physiotherapy appointments.

Last financial year, patients residing in the Gympie region accounted for around 31 percent of activity provided at SCUH and approximately 70 percent of Wishlist accommodation guests are from the Gympie region.

The new Patient Transport Service is expected to commence in the new financial year helping thousands of rural and remote patients.

Find out more about the project here.

Follow Us!