Three generations hail cancer lodges

Michael TraillAlbany Advertiser
Shevaun Rowsell, Merle Sandells and Noeline Rowsell.
Camera IconShevaun Rowsell, Merle Sandells and Noeline Rowsell. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser

There are few families who have not felt the devastating impacts of a cancer diagnosis.

There have been even fewer, however, who have felt the impact more acutely than Noeline Rowsell’s family.

Out of Ms Rowsell’s 17 first-cousins on her father’s side, only one has not been “directly” affected by a diagnosis.

Those 16 cousins have either been diagnosed with cancer or had a parent or child diagnosed with cancer.

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Ms Rowsell has had all three. She, her mother and her daughter have all had cancer.

In their “draining” journeys to Perth for treatment, they had all found comfort in the same ally — the Cancer Council’s Milroy and Crawford lodges.

“It’s like home away from home,” Ms Rowsell said. “We’d be up the creek without them.”

About a decade ago, Ms Rowsell stayed at Milroy Lodge while being treated for breast cancer.

Her daughter, Shevaun Rowsell, called Crawford Lodge home for six weeks while receiving radiation for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Now, the family has returned to Crawford Lodge with Noeline’s mother, Merle Sandells, who has skin cancer.

On February 29, the Crawford Lodge will celebrate its 20th birthday.

There have been 63,000 check-ins at the lodges from regional cancer patients since they were established.

Ms Roswell said her family had treated their Crawford and Milroy Lodge stays like holidays. They considered themselves luckier than metro patients who were unable to stay at the lodges.

“We kind of figured that if we’ve got to be out there for weeks on end ... we’d treat it like a holiday,” she said.

“If we didn’t feel up to doing anything, we’d just stayed in the room after treatment and if we felt like it we’d go off and do something even if it’s just going out for coffee or going to the movies. It gives you a sense of independence you otherwise wouldn’t have.”

Ms Roswell said the lodges lifted a huge burden for families, with the Cancer Council covering transport to treatment and expenses for guests.

“If we didn’t have access to the lodges, we would have had to stay with family or in a hotel every time we came up from Albany, and that would have been too difficult and costly for us,” she said.

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