Push to reinvigorate a Wagga Can Assist branch for locals battling cancer

HELPING HAND: Wagga cancer survivor John Nixon is moving to reestablish a local Can Assist branch. Picture: Les Smith
HELPING HAND: Wagga cancer survivor John Nixon is moving to reestablish a local Can Assist branch. Picture: Les Smith

For John Nixon, the rattling impact of cancer sits very close to home. 

He won his own battle against bowel cancer when living in Temora six years ago.

But now, after moving to Wagga five years ago, his family have been rocked by the recent diagnosis of his 20-year-old son Bradley with both bowel and liver cancer. 

“He’d just finished his apprenticeship and was getting on top of things and bang,” Mr Nixon said. 

“It’s devastating.” 

Bradley is lucky enough to receive financial assistance and support through Can Assist Temora for his travel to Albury and Sydney, but his dad was shocked to discover there was no active Wagga branch.

“The financial strain on Bradley is massive,” he said.

“I spent six weeks sitting on the lounge at home after my treatment.” 

A lack of volunteers saw the local branch cease operations some years ago. 

Inspired by his own experience and now that of his son, Mr Nixon has moved to breathe life back into it.  

While Wagga’s Lilier Lodge, a joint venture between Can Assist and the Cancer Council, provides discounted accommodation for those traveling into town for treatment and their families, an active branch would care exclusively for the city’s own residents. 

“Everyone in Wagga is either directly or indirectly effected by it,” Mr Nixon said. 

“It can be incredibly hard to get help but with Can Assist, all the money raised stays local.” 

Lilier Lodge Community Liaison Specialist Peter Dale said the branch would be focused on providing “practical” help. 

“It’s about assisting people in making the considerable expenses they have to meet through a variety of services,” he said. 

As well as financial help, Mr Nixon says there will be a strong focus on support.

“Someone will keep in touch with the patient, pop in now and then,” he said. 

“Once a lady brought me around a bowl of soup.

“In smaller towns people get behind each other in a way you don’t really see in the bigger cities.”

Expressions of interest for committee members and volunteers are now open, with Mr Nixon hoping to hold the first meeting before the year is out. 

“The sooner the better,” he said.

“Many hands make light work so the more we can get the more evenly we can spread the load.”

Volunteer positions will mainly involve fundraising and helping to organise and staff events. The news has been met warmly on social media.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Mr Nixon on 0428 437 069.