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Health professionals

Broome resident and young mother, Katie Elphick, has become the face of a new appeal urging the community to support Cancer Council WA’s accommodation Lodges, following her shock bowel cancer diagnosis last December aged just 33 years.

Ms Elphick said she was blind sighted by the news.

“Late last year I had been experiencing blood and cramping when going to the toilet, but during this time my dad was nearing the end of his life with a terminal cancer diagnosis, so I thought it was my body under stress,” Katie said.

“I had also been dealing with post-partum anxiety with my 14 month old son, Archer, and breastfeeding.”

When her symptoms worsened, she saw her local GP who referred her to a surgeon for a colonoscopy.

“The surgeon told me he was unable to complete my colonoscopy due to a tumour being in the way,” she said.

“I asked him what that meant, and he said, “unfortunately it’s cancer”.

“I was completely numb as I was a 33 year old wife with a 14 month old son being told I have stage 4 bowel cancer.”

Katie, her husband Michael, and son Archer would need to move from Broome to Perth for a number of months while she underwent treatment which included seven rounds of chemotherapy and six rounds of radiation.

Katie said they were told about Cancer Council WA’s Milroy Lodge in Shenton Park and Crawford Lodge in Nedlands which provides a home-away-from-home for country cancer patients when they need to stay in Perth, to reduce the added financial hardship of their diagnosis.

“My social worker put me on the wait list for Crawford Lodge as we were unsure of how long we would be in Perth, and accommodation was becoming expensive,” she said.

Our stay at the Lodge was amazing! It was truly a home-away-from-home for us.

“The fact that we knew we had a roof over our head and knowing we were surrounded by others going through the same thing made us feel more at ease. The staff were amazing and Archer was definitely the little sunshine, not just for me but for others too which made me really proud.

“I am so proud to be the face of this year’s Christmas appeal and encourage the WA community to get behind this campaign to support this vital service for those in the regions.”

Cancer Council WA Cancer Information and Support Services Director, Melanie Marsh, said she was pleased Katie, Michael and Archer had benefited from their experience at Cancer Council WA’s Lodges, and that they felt supported and reassured throughout Katie’s journey.

“It’s wonderful to hear how our services are helping regional cancer patients like Katie and making a real difference in their lives by addressing and alleviating concerns such as accommodation stress that occurs so often during a cancer diagnosis,” Ms Marsh said.

“By supporting our Christmas Appeal, you can ensure cancer patients and survivors, like Katie, have vital support when they need it most.”

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