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West Coast woman Gail Brewerton describes the support she has received from the Cancer Society since being diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer as “phenomenal.”

“The whole way through from when I was having my biopsies, the Cancer Society’s Supportive Care Coordinator Maree Yaxley has been keeping in regular contact,” Gail says.

“I didn’t feel like I was on my own - all I had to do was text Maree and she was there.”

Gail has needed to travel from her West Coast home to Christchurch a total of five times for a range of investigative treatments including biopsies, an MRI, an appointment with a specialist and, more recently, surgery to remove both of her breasts (a bilateral mastectomy).

Each time Maree organised free accommodation for Gail at Daffodil House in Christchurch.

“Daffodil House is a godsend, having somewhere to stay that’s free makes a huge difference when you live away from a main centre,” Gail says.

Maree says that the aim was to get the best outcome for Gail and that this was achieved by working collaboratively across the Cancer Society teams on the West Coast and in Christchurch to ensure that Gail was supported at each stage. Because Gail couldn’t drive for six weeks following her surgery, Maree organised for Cancer Society volunteer driver John Best to drive from Greymouth to Christchurch to collect Gail and bring her back home to the West Coast.

In addition to providing free accommodation and transport for Gail, the Cancer Society supplied food vouchers for easy to prepare meals post-surgery and breast care pillows to help make her travel more comfortable.

“I think it’s amazing – I’m just blown away that the service is there and that it is accessible,” she says. “The service offered by the Cancer Society is gold standard.”