GENEROUS: Managers of the Quality Inn Jane and Rob Burley are providing accommodation for oncology patients. Photo: Adam Hourigan
GENEROUS: Managers of the Quality Inn Jane and Rob Burley are providing accommodation for oncology patients. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Grafton hotel offers room for cancer patients

QUALITY Inn managers Jane and Rob Burley know the importance of a comfortable bed when undergoing cancer treatment.

When Jane was diagnosed with cancer 15 years ago, she and her husband had to travel for treatment and were faced with the emotional and financial strains that came with it.

In order to give back to the community, Grafton's Quality Inn has offered free accommodation for oncology unit patients and their partners who are having difficulty attending treatment due to logistical challenges in travelling to Grafton.

Having come out the other side of her experience, Mrs Burley said she understood how hard treatment could be on families.

Fifteen years ago she was told she had a tumour wrapped around her spinal cord.

After two operations failed to remove the tumour completely, Mrs Burley was booked in with a top surgeon in Melbourne for her third operation.

Husband and Quality Inn co-manager Rob was with her the entire time, renting a house in Melbourne to be by her side.

The operations were followed by three bouts of chemotherapy, after which she received the all-clear.

As a result of the financial burden of treatment, however, Mr and Mrs Burley sold their home to cover the ongoing costs.

"It saved me but it was traumatic, so financially we do understand what people go through," she said.

"We acknowledge that there are things that people don't see.

"It's not just the person that has cancer going through it; it's everyone else around you."

Grafton oncology unit cancer liaison nurse Sue Webb said the service was greatly appreciated and would be extremely valuable to patients in need.

"It's fabulous. We have a lot of patients who travel from Yamba, Maclean (and other places) downriver for treatment," Ms Webb said.

"It doesn't happen very often but things can happen where there may be complications or a treatment may run over-time.

"I think it will help a lot of people."

The accommodation is available if a patient has a long distance to travel and is having trouble getting to the unit for treatment.

A room can be allocated through Grafton's oncology unit for the night before, or the day of treatment, or whatever is required to make life easier for them at no cost to them or the hospital.

The offer is also open to partners of patients under-going treatment.

Mrs Burley said the idea was initiated by the Quality Inn's owner Rob Bland, who wanted to find a new way to contribute to the local community.

"It's an amazing community spirit that we have here in Grafton and everyone does rally together," she said.

"If you're helping support the community, it's just going to grow.

"Hopefully this is a program we can work with right into the future."

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