Cancer care close to home

19 Nov 2020

Point Cook resident and mother of two, Alison Smith thought turning 50 would mark a positive new beginning in her life. Instead, just a few months after her millstone birthday, Alison was dealt a devastating blow. She was diagnosed with stage four terminal bowel cancer.

As a registered theatre nurse, Alison was shocked that she hadn’t seen the signs. The reality was she had experienced virtually no symptoms, apart from a bit of bloating. Ironically her 50th birthday has bought her precious time with her family. Her life-changing diagnosis was uncovered thanks to the government issued cancer testing kit.

After being referred to St Vincent’s Private Oncologist, Professor Peter Gibbs, in early April 2019, no time has was wasted in getting Alison’s treatment underway. A port was inserted into her chest so she could commence ongoing chemotherapy at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Werribee. She receives ongoing chemotherapy on a weekly basis. Every second week she receives three different drugs which takes 4 to 5 hours. On the weeks she receives one drug, the sessions are around one hour. 

“St Vincent’s Werribee has made my journey a lot easier. I feel so lucky that I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and battle traffic to face a pretty ordinary day being pumped full of chemicals.”

“Plus the staff are amazing. Everyone is so friendly and helpful. Someone always takes you up to the unit after they admit you. You are then greeted by our ‘Knight in Shining Armour’, Raji. She is always at the ready with a remedy to help ease the uncomfortable aspect of our not so delightful side effects that come with chemotherapy. The staff working close by in theatre always share a friendly smile and hello as they pass by,” Alison said.

A redevelopment of the Day Oncology Unit is planned to create individual pods to allow for more patient privacy as well as adding some plants and artwork to the space.  

When asked about the proposed upgrade Alison said, “It’s already an amazing place, but the upgrade would add to it. It would make it less clinical and more calming environment. Anything that provides a distraction is a good thing when you’re going through chemo.”

The experience has certainly changed Alison’s perspective but what hasn’t changed is her positive nature and her sense of humour. She also is extremely grateful to her family and friends for their enduring support.

“I would be completely lost without my family, my friends and my kids, Jorie and Pippa. Their love and support has meant the world to me, I appreciate them all so much.

“You learn a lot about life and the fact you don’t have much control. I’ve had to let things go and live day by day. Each day becomes special in its own way plus it’s really important to remember to laugh,” Alison said.

Please support the upgrade of the Day Oncology Unit

Your support means many more patients, like Alison, can receive the care they need close to home, thank you. 


St Vincent's Foundation
Ground floor
Rear, 55 Victoria Parade
Fitzroy, Victoria 3065