Chemotherapy now offered for kids with cancer in Bendigo

THE lives of kids fighting cancer might be made a little easier, with Bendigo Health now able to offer a treatment to young patients.

Eligible children are able to undergo chemotherapy here in Bendigo, rather than travelling to Melbourne for treatment.

Seven-year-old Rylan Moyle was the first child to benefit from the new program, saving him monthly trips to the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.

He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia on his sixth birthday in July last year.

His mum Chloe Campbell said that since this July he had received his hospital treatment at Bendigo Health and only travelled to Melbourne every three months for lumbar punctures.

“It’s just so much easier,” Miss Campbell said.

“It takes away so much stress, having to drive just around the corner, rather than a two-hour drive, sometimes a two and a half hour drive.”

She said it was also much easier for Rylan emotionally.

“It really upsets him going to the Royal Children’s Hospital, just because of everything he’s been through there… he’s really comfortable here,” Miss Campbell said.

Rylan added that he liked not to have to go there so often “because it takes ages to get to Melbourne”.

Miss Campbell said they had not received an end date for Rylan’s treatment, but it typically went on for up to three and a half years, meaning he would likely continue receiving treatment for another two years or more.

Another little girl is also now able to receive her chemotherapy in Bendigo, rather than Melbourne.

Paediatric nurse Charlotte Henshaw is one of three nurses in the child and adolescent unit who is currently trained or receiving training to deliver the treatment.

She said they were able to deliver one chemotherapy agent, but it could potentially treat a variety of cancers, depending on a child’s circumstances.

Nurse unit manager Debbie Forbes said the hospital was able to deliver the treatment through a regional outreach program of the Paediatric Integrated Cancer Service.

Mrs Forbes said children had to meet certain criteria to be able to receive the chemotherapy in Bendigo.

The hospital had provided supportive care in the community to young cancer patients for several years before becoming qualified to deliver treatment itself, she said.

Staff in Bendigo are supported by doctors at the Royal Children’s Hospital in delivering the treatment.

Miss Campbell thanked the staff who looked after Rylan in Bendigo and Melbourne, saying the family was appreciative of everything they did for them.