IN the lead-up to Daffodil Day on August 24, journalist Nadine Morton is looking at the subject of cancer in our city – from the support services available for patients to the volunteers who offer love and compassion to those fighting the disease. This is the second part in a weekly series.
THERE are not many situations in life that leave Sylvia Kilby, 74, speechless.
In late 2015, however, she was diagnosed with bowel cancer. She faced a barrage of tests, treatment and she says an uncertain future.
“It’s a shock. I had a colonsopy because I knew something wasn’t right, but I had diagnosed myself as having an ulcer,” she said.
“I suppose it’s one of the few times in my life that I was speechless.
“It’s very scary because you don’t know what’s going to happen and you don’t know if you’re going to still be around.”
Through everything that followed, Mrs Kilby said it was laughter with friends, both old and new, that helped get her through.
As part of her treatment journey, she caught the Radiation Bus each weekday, for six weeks, to Orange Hospital for radiotherapy.
“We always used to say we got zapped when we went there,” she said.
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Some days she caught the bus with husband Don, other days it was with her good friend Pat Howard.
“We left Daffodil Cottage about 9am and we’d wait for everyone to have their treatment in Orange and then we would hop on the bus and we’d be home by 12.30pm or 1pm,” she said.
“The bus is not just important as a means of transport, it’s important because of the camaraderie on the bus. The people really helped each other and they became like family.
“There’s all sorts of reasons why that bus is just the most wonderful thing that any community could have.
“It’s really important for people who can’t drive anymore, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to get there and for people who haven’t got family to take them.
The bus is not just important as a means of transport, it’s important because of the camaraderie.Sylvia Kilby
“Unfortunately, there was somebody to fill that seat, several people to fill that seat [when a patient finishes treatment].”
While some of Mrs Kilby’s support came from new friends made on the Radiation Bus, other support came from friends she has known a lifetime.
Following her surgery in April 2016, a small group of her friends begun gathering at her home for a weekly knitting/crocheting session. The group continues to this day.
These days, Mrs Kilby has a clean bill of health and she still regularly catches up with fellow passengers who also caught the Radiation Bus.
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“You get to know the people and they’re all just wonderful. When you don’t go on the bus anymore it’s just like you’ve left your family behind,” she said.
Looking towards the future, Mrs Kilby said hers is bright.
“I feel very fortunate, I’m one of the lucky ones, it’s been great,” she said.
“Friends and family are so important. When people have these sort of things, you need cheerful, positive people around you and I have that. I was very lucky with my friends and my family.
“It’s very hard to be down in the dumps when you have a group like I have around me.”
Meet Radiation Bus driver Phillip Murray
FOR almost five years a community-run initiative has transported people from Bathurst to Orange for life-saving radiotherapy treatment.
The Radiation Bus is part of Bathurst Community Transport, and each weekday it takes those undergoing treatment for cancer to Orange Hospital’s radiation department.
Behind the wheel each day are volunteer drivers who donate their time and efforts to help patients and their spouse or carer during treatment.
Bathurst man Phillip Murray is among the 30 volunteer drivers and he has been driving the Radiation Bus for the past 12 months. Read more.