Like so many cancer patients, the cost-of-living crisis hit local 67-year-old Vince O’Donnell hard.
He and his partner Terri were living in Yeppoon in 2014 when he was diagnosed with a blood disorder – hereditary amyloidosis polyneuropathy with cardiomyopathy.
But his treatment was only available at Princess Alexandra Hospital, so they moved to Logan.
As pensioners, the best accommodation they could afford was living in their caravan on his brother’s property.
And even then, Mr O’Donnell said, the costs add up.
“The cost of living keeps going up and nothing seems to come down,” he said.
“The costs of travel keeps going up and up and up.
Last week alone he travelled to the hospital for treatment four times – costing him petrol, parking and food.
“It’s either a specialist or a clinic or an MRI or an ECG, and it’s not just that, because my partner has health issues, and we have to travel for her requirements as well.
“That’s just some of the ongoing costs.”
The Leukaemia Foundation has provided him with financial assistance and fuel vouchers.
“The Leukaemia Foundation has been very helpful with support,” Mr O’Donnell said.
Mr O’Donnell said the diagnosis has not only impacted him financially and emotionally, but his partner who has been his “rock”.
“It’s my treatment, my condition, but life goes on for other people in your in your family,” he said.
“You need to be considerate, and understand that it’s not just about me, it’s about how this affects other people in your family.
And it seems Mr O’Donnell is not alone.
The Leukaemia Foundation is experiencing an unprecedented surge in requests for financial assistance from blood cancer patients and their loved ones, a spokesperson said.
“There’s been a 37 per cent increase in people reaching out for financial help in the last financial year, with many struggling to make ends meet,” she said.
“Blood cancer is one of the costliest cancers to treat and the average out of pocket cost for blood cancer treatment ranges from $5,000 – $11,000, compared with other cancers which generally incur around $2,500 in out-of-pocket costs.
“Blood cancer treatment can be lengthy with 42 per cent of patients taking over three months off work, 30 per cent having to leave their jobs, and 50 per cent not being able to return to work.”
Both Mr O’Donnell’s father and brother died from the same condition he has.
He said all three of his children are thankfully free of the gene, and his treatment was going well.