Denise Fergusson estimates that her late husband’s three-year battle against cancer left the couple about $68,000 out of pocket.
Robert Fergusson died seven years ago. He had been fighting a sarcoma in his chest.
More recently, Mrs Fergusson has had her own fight with breast cancer and is now pushing to improve publicly funded cancer services in regional areas, starting with Wagga.
She says the cost of seeking fellow-up scans and appointments at a privately run facility is simply too high, so she is forgoing them, and fears others may be doing the same.
After her husband’s death, Mrs Fergusson moved to Surfers Paradise and it was while she was living in Quneensland that she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
During the course of her treatment, Mrs Fergusson underwent a double mastectomy.
She said there was no cost to her from any of her treatment in Queensland.
But a little more than a year ago, Mrs Fergusson decided to move back to Wagga, where she has family.
I don’t always go to appointments because I can’t afford it.Denise Fergusson
Mrs Fergusson said it was only she was settled back in Wagga and went to have a scan that she discovered that the services were not publicly funded and she was, on that occasion, facing out-of-pocket expenses of $300.
“I told them I had to think about it and I left,” she said.
“When you’re on a pension and you have to pay for rent and medication and other bills, there isn’t a lot left.
“I don’t always go to appointments because I can’t afford it.
“We should have a public cancer clinic in Wagga.
“I’m feeling fine now, but it has been harrowing to go through.”
The 74-year-old is concerned other people in regional areas are not undergoing necessary check-ups, scans or tests because of the cost.
This week, she was able to enlist the support of fellow Country Women’s Association members in calling for more publicly funded cancer treatments in regional areas.
At the CWA Riverina group conference on Wednesday, members have voted to ask that their organisation at a state level advocate for public cancer clinics in regional, rural, and remote areas “to ensure that public patients have affordable, accessible on-going treatment for cancer-related illnesses within an easily accessible area”.