Merriwa cancer patients who rely on their cars to travel to treatment can get help to pay for their CTP green slip insurance through a local cancer support group.
Can Assist Merriwa has received vital funding from greenslips.com.au to aid with providing financial support to patients in need.
The group also provides practical and financial support to cancer patients in Merriwa and surrounding townships, through travel, food and fuel vouchers, pharmaceuticals and utilities payments.
The volunteers who run the branch know that there are many more in the community who need help - and they're keen to support more patients in need, especially with the funds from www.greenslips.com.au to help pay for cancer patients' CTP green slip insurance.
The month of June marked Can Assist Merriwa's first anniversary, after it was established by Marlene Rogers, a bowel cancer survivor.
Ms Rogers experienced first-hand the unique support of Can Assist, when the Tamworth branch assisted her when she was going through treatment.
"Their support blew me away, and when I was well again, I decided to open the branch in Merriwa," she said.
Fast forward 12 months and Can Assist Merriwa now has 21 volunteers and is supporting 10 local cancer patients.
It provides confidential support to cover everyday bills and the costs associated with cancer, even assistance with housekeeping and gardening.
"Cancer costs a lot of money, especially when you live in the country" Ms Rogers said.
The branch recently helped a patient who came home from four weeks treatment and needed immediate support to clean their house.
Can Assist paid for alternate accommodation, cleaning, and provided help with everyday bills while the patient got back on their feet.
According to the volunteers, what sets Can Assist apart from other charities is that all money raised stays local to help local cancer patients across the district.
The branch is funded entirely by local donations, local fundraising events, and corporate support such as greenslips.com.au.
Ms Rogers says the funds from greenslips.com.au will make a "huge difference".
"Having a car is essential for local cancer patients because they have to travel extensively for treatment," she said.
"It's much harder and more expensive for those in rural areas to get to treatment, compared to our city 'cousins'.
"We have to travel hundreds of kilometres and stay overnight, because you can't manage the trip home. And therein lies another expense.
"We have a lot of people in the area who travel for treatment. And a lot of people want to travel in their own car, take their time, pull over if needed, or travel with family or friends for support.
"So, to be able to offer payment for their greenslip is amazing! It will make a huge difference to their mental health and wellbeing."
Branch President, David Martin says the money from greenslips.com.au will be a "big relief" for local cancer patients.
"It just takes the pressure off and the anxiety away," he said.
"So many country people are proud, with a 'we'll be right, battle through, give it to someone else' attitude - but everyone deserves help.
"A car is the number one necessity; it's over 200km, at least a 5-hour return trip, to Newcastle and Tamworth to visit the cancer specialists.
"A car provides privacy when you're vulnerable. When you're going through treatment, you don't want to be around others, you want to be with family and friends. The car gives you a chance to talk in a low-key environment."
Stephen Treacey, founder and owner of greenslips.com.au, a CTP green slip insurance price comparison and information website, says the work of Can Assist Merriwa typifies the enormous impact the charity has on people's lives.
"I'm humbled by the work that Can Assist does," Mr Treacey said.
"We are proud to help Can Assist in its support of rural and regional cancer patients, to raise awareness of this wonderful charity and their work, and to help cancer patients with their CTP green slip insurance.
"To date, we have contributed to 28 branches across NSW, in addition to Can Assist's head office.
"We estimate we have helped support over 280 cancer patients and their families by paying for CTP green slip insurance, ensuring they keep their cars on the road when they need them most - to get to and from treatment.
"Some of the distances people in rural and remote NSW have to travel to access cancer treatment are immense, and we hope we ease their cancer journey in more ways than one."
Since the branch opened, Can Assist Merriwa has had 19 enquiries from cancer patients and is currently supporting 10 of different ages and at different stages of their cancer journey.
"It's amazing what our branch has done in just one year," Ms Rogers said.
"Can Assist is my passion. If I can help one person, I get immense joy out of that. Amazing things happen when you can give; you receive back so much more."
Mr Martin added that not many people know about Can Assist Merriwa, so it was crucial to get the message out there that 'the funds are here, and we're here to help'.
"The hardest part is getting people to accept help. If it relieves their situation, they can focus on fighting cancer and getting better. Let us help take the financial burden off you - and when you're well you can help us," he said.
Can Assist Merriwa is also welcoming new volunteers.
"The more people are aware of us, the better. It means we can help more people," Mr Martin said.
"We'd also love to see Can Assist branches open in other local towns, such as Musswellbrook and Singleton."
For information about donating or volunteering with Can Assist Merriwa, contact 0431 939 093.
For further information about how to support Can Assist, visit www.canassist.org.au.
Can Assist Merriwa is holding a fundraising event on Saturday 25 September at Merriwa Sports Club, doors open 5.30pm.
Acclaimed drag queen Glenda Jackson is coming to town to perform, and it's just $50 a head for a 2-course meal and the show, with plenty of glamour, comedy, fun and games.
Contact Marlene Rogers on 6548 5191 or 0431 939 093 to book*.
*COVID situation dependent
For more visit: www.canassist.org.au
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.