An inspiration to all
THERE'S no shortage of inspirational stories of survival through the doors of Lismore cancer support centre Our House.
Slovenian-born breast cancer patient Hilda Corney is testament to that.
Born in communist Slovenia in 1934, Ms Corney was taunted by freedom via the Austrian border just a short distance from her hometown of Sveti Jurij.
Her country had been ravaged by the Great Depression and further marred by conflict between Germany and Russia in the Second World War.
This, coupled with a poor relationship with an unloving father, drove Ms Corney to concoct an escape plan across the border.
The 18-year-old apprentice dressmaker and her 17-year-old friend naively thought that they could simply walk over the border under the guise that they were going to a dance.
"I still recall the sound of the bullet that narrowly missed my left ear, as this plan was thwarted by Slovenian officials," Ms Corney said.
After being captured the girls spent two harrowing weeks in isolation, while the officials ensured that the pair were not spies, followed by an eight-month prison sentence.
Ms Corney said once her prison sentence was served she managed to avoid returning to her home town by securing a job as a housekeeper.
Eventually, she managed to escape by avoiding authorities and cycling to her aunt's place where she travelled on foot with a guide to the Austrian border.
After two days of walking through the forest, Ms Corney reached a farmhouse.
"Once here, the Austrian police were contacted and I was transported to a nearby pub and served one of the best meals I had ever eaten," she said.
Ms Corney eventually migrated to Australia and headed to Tenterfield where an uncle resided.
"It was here I met Gordon and we have been married for 54 years," she said.
The Tenterfield resident has spent five weeks as a guest in Our House while undergoing treatment in town.
Our House chairman Dr Chris Ingall said Ms Corney was a great example of the guests Our House assisted.
"We want to ensure we can continue our unique service to people like Hilda for years to come," he said.
"Our House is confident the government will come to a solution with the IPTAAS issue to allow us to continue providing its service to guests like Hilda."