Cancer patient ordered to repay $40,000
By NERIDA BLOK
A red tape stuff-up is forcing cancer patient Leanne Myles to repay money that was donated to save her life.
HOPE has turned to heartbreak for breast cancer sufferer Leanne Myles who has to return up to $40,000 in donations after a red tape stuff-up.
The former Lismore girl, now living in Brisbane, is being asked to return money donors had paid into an account set up by Brisbane's Wesley Hospital.
The hospital set up the account without checking whether they were legally able to accept funds on behalf of an individual.
Last week The Northern Star reported on Leanne's fiance Scott Bradshaw, who is walking from Brisbane to Sydney to raise funds to help other breast cancer sufferers to purchase the drug Herceptin.
"It's been extra stress and drama I don't need to go through," said Leanne, 28, who is due to start her third bout of chemotherapy next week.
The account was set up before Leanne and Scott appeared on Channel Nine's A Current Affair.
They told how they could not afford Herceptin, which was Leanne's best chance of surviving her aggressive form of breast cancer.
As a result of their appearance, about $75,000 worth of cheques, credit card pledges and money orders made out to The Wesley flowed into the hospital.
Enough money was raised to pay for her treatment but Scott continued with his separate fundraising walk.
Yesterday, The Wesley Hospital general manager Gerard Wyvill admitted an administration error had been made.
"It was an error of judgement," he said. "But it was done in good faith. We did want to assist Leanne. We didn't actually try to do anything to mislead Leanne or the community."
Mr Wyvill said the main concern now was that all the money donated made its way to Leanne's own trust account with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
He said all the money had now been forwarded to Leanne, except for pledges that were given over the phone.
Those people, he said, had been written to and given Leanne's new account details.
Leanne, a mother of two, agreed the hospital had good intentions but she said they could have avoided the fiasco.
She said their fundraising department offered to set up the trust account and handle the legalities through their pro-bono solicitors three weeks before the show aired on October 6.
"I emailed them to ask for advice as to how I would set up a trust account and told them how we were going on A Current Affair," she said.
"As soon as it was evident the story was going public they said they would handle it and set up the account in return for mention of them on the show.
"It was a, you stroke my back, I'll stroke yours kind of thing."
However, Leanne said the day after the show aired, the hospital phoned and said they were unable to collect the money because of their obligations under the Charitable Trust Act.
She said she was able to retain about $35,000 which had been sent in envelopes made out directly to her, and not the hospital.
Now the responsibility for returning the remainder rests with her.
"I'm going into chemotherapy next Wednesday and have a huge box of letters to go through on my own ? about 1200 letters, but I just won't have time to look at them," she said.
"I don't want people to think we're not responding. It's just such a huge task."
What do you think?
Phone the Star Feedback line on 6624 3266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org