Clinical nurse consultant Sara Hurren (left) and patient administrator Allison Goodwin (centre) help Michelle McPherson, of Lis
Clinical nurse consultant Sara Hurren (left) and patient administrator Allison Goodwin (centre) help Michelle McPherson, of Lis

St Vincent's opens new oncology unit

By Alex Easton alex.easton@northernstar.com.au BEING St Vincent’s Hospital’s first chemotherapy patient didn’t make cancer any less scary for Michelle McPherson. But it did make it more comfortable.

Ms McPherson, of Lismore, was the first person to start receiving chemotherapy at the Lismore private hospital’s new oncology unit, which was officially opened yesterday.

She works at the Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology lab at the hospital, so she’s used to dealing with cancer patients. But that only made her diagnosis even more frightening.

“I do have a lot to do with cancer patients ... but usually it’s a bad scenario,” she said. “So when I heard I just thought the worst.”

Fortunately, Ms McPherson was a long way from ‘the worst’, with oncologist Adam Boyce describing her six-month course of chemotherapy as ‘preventative’.

Ms McPherson said she chose the new private unit over the public unit at the Lismore Base Hospital because it was convenient and comfortable, and because her family could stay with her there.

Dr Boyce, who has taken on the role of the hospital’s director of medical oncology, on top of his work in the public system as the region’s sole oncologist, said the new unit offered the same level of care as the public unit, but with more comfort and greater privacy.

However, Dr Boyce said the new unit also offered some important advantages for the region.

Increasing the volume of cancer facilities in the city made Lismore more attractive to oncologists and raised hopes the city could finally attract a second cancer specialist to share the load with Dr Boyce – something both hospitals have been working towards.

Once the new radiotherapy unit is built at the Base Hospital, the number of cancer patients coming to Lismore for treatment will increase and the St Vincent’s oncology unit will help provide treatment space for them, as well as providing more options for where they can receive treatment outside of radiotherapy.



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