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In January this year, 77 year old Norma Faulkner from Angus Valley was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. For the past three months, she has been having chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment at Royal Adelaide Hospital and staying at Flinders Lodge on Dequetteville Terrace. 

I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the beginning of this year. I’d been having a bit of pain my arm for a while, which my doctor originally thought was a pulled muscle. However it kept getting worse and during a trip to Portland to visit my husband I noticed a lump under my right arm the size of a mandarin.

When I got back I went to Woodside Country Practice to see what was wrong. The Doctor there referred me to Royal Adelaide Hospital to have samples taken immediately.

Shortly after that was told the news—I had aggressive non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and needed treatment pretty quickly. I was lucky, as the lump was still relatively small, however three rounds of chemotherapy were still recommended.

When you’ve never really had dealings with cancer, or close friends who have been through it, you don’t really know where to turn. I’m a tough old chook and was keen to take care of things myself, however knew that I would have to travel to Adelaide for treatment. My ex-husband recommended Flinders Lodge to me, and I’m so glad that he did.

I underwent three rounds of chemotherapy treatment, 21 days apart, with my husband Kevin driving me to and from Adelaide for my treatment at the RAH.

Kevin had to go back to work, so I underwent the last three weeks of radiology without him there. I hate driving around Adelaide so to have a place to stay, that took me to and from appointments, was a godsend. I left my dog at a friends at Norton Summit and then toddled off down the hill to Flinders Lodge where I spent the last three weeks.

Even though there have been some changes at Flinders Lodge due to the Coronavirus, such as the kitchen and recreation room closing and personal contact being limited, never once did I feel like I was shut in. When I wasn’t at appointments, I did crocheting in my room and watched tele. When I didn’t feel like cooking, I got meals delivered to my room. I always felt very supported.

The staff at the lodges are just wonderful. From the friendly bloke at reception and the volunteers who do the driving, to the social workers Jo and Michelle—each one made me feel so supported.

Jo was my main contact, she’s such a bubbly lady and explained things in a way that was really helpful to me. She also organised support from organisations to help us pay a couple of our bills, which was just fantastic. Being away from home and having treatment, especially during this time, is a scary thing, and the support I got from every single person at Flinders Lodge made a huge difference.

At the end of my last round of treatment last week I received some wonderful news—the chemotherapy had worked, and my cancer could no longer be detected. I returned home last weekend after 25 days at Flinders Lodge.

I’m incredibly grateful to be home, but also incredibly grateful to Cancer Council SA for their support this year, and particularly during the last month. I can’t fault it. In my eyes, it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

Last year Cancer Council’s Lodges provided more than 32,800 nights of accommodation to regional South Australians. Throughout the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Cancer Council Lodges have remained operational, providing supportive accommodation to regional South Australians travelling to Adelaide for cancer treatment.

To find out more about the Cancer Council SA Lodges and how we can support regional South Australians impacted by cancer contact our Cancer Nurses on 13 11 20.