Pictured: Manuel Aranega, left, Keith Wilson from the Cancer Carers group and Lisa Cook from Wollongong Hospital with one of 10 new chemotherapy chairs. Credit: ROBERT PEET
Shellharbour resident Manuel Aranega knows a thing or two about chemotherapy chairs - he regularly had to spend eight hours at a time in one while undergoing 12 months of treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Now in remission, the 54-year-old was happy to take a seat in one of Wollongong Hospital's new state-of-the art chemotherapy chairs yesterday to demonstrate its many features.
It's one of 10 new chairs headed for the hospital's expanded Cancer Care Centre and it's been made possible through the generosity of local businesses in conjunction with the fund-raising efforts of the Illawarra Cancer Carers.
"When you're stuck in that chair for eight hours a day, then the comfort and design of it really matters," Mr Aranega said.
"The chair might seem like a small thing when you're going through this type of treatment, but it's often the small things that can make a difference.
"Small things like having a comfortable chair you can adjust easily, or having one of the volunteers bring you a sandwich or a cup of tea. You can't appreciate how much those things mean unless you go through it."
Wollongong Hospital nurse unit manager Lisa Cook said the chairs would make the whole experience far more pleasant for patients and staff.
"They offer a range of health and safety aspects for those undergoing treatment and for staff as they are height adjustable so staff don't have to bend continually to administer treatment," she said.
"They also have an important CPR function - at the touch of a button the chair adjusts so that the patient is lying flat with their head lowered and there's a built-in CPR board so emergency situations can be handled in the chair."
Illawarra Cancer Carers chairman Keith Wilson said the 10 chairs were worth a total of $56,000.
"Ten donors donated $2500 each and the Cancer Carers raised the rest at this year's Banquet at the Beach fund-raiser," he said.
Wollongong Hospital director of cancer services Anthony Arnold said while federal government funding had paid for the expansion of the Cancer Care Centre, those funds had not extended to the replacement of all equipment that was needed.
"'It's hard in the financially constrained health environment to make sure what we provide is as cutting edge as possible, but the Illawarra Cancer Carers' support over the years has helped keep us on the front foot," Mr Arnold said.
"And so while we had government funding for six new chairs for the centre, this latest donation means we can also replace the 10 chairs that were already there so the entire treatment room is fitted out with the latest model," Mr Arnold said.