Natalie Hine was one of the first patients at Icon Centre, which has just celebrated its first birthday.
Natalie Hine was one of the first patients at Icon Centre, which has just celebrated its first birthday. Emma Murray

Iconic move helps mum beat cancer challenge

AFTER being diagnosed with an aggressive strain of breast cancer, Natalie Hine was thrown a devastating curve ball.

The mother of three began confronting the disease in July 2017 and was one of the first radiation therapy patients to be treated at Mackay's Icon Cancer Centre.

Its launch in late January last year rejuvenated her treatment, providing a regional outlet to pursue her many doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapies. Prior to that, she was faced with the prospect of travelling to Townsville every six weeks, leaving behind her strong support network.

A meticulous planner, Mrs Hine's deepest concerns lay in the anticipated time away from home and she said access to treatment close to home made a big difference dealing with the daunting path ahead of her.

"It knocked all my plans out the window (and) you have to sort of start from scratch,” Mrs Hine said.

"It's a physical challenge but also a mental challenge when you're going through your treatment and you're absolutely tired, exhausted and fatigued - you need that support behind you to get through all that.

"It's those mental challenges and you go to your family and friends for support. That's what I was struggling with - how am I going to go with radiation when I'm not going to have all this support network easily available?”

Since opening, Icon Mackay has treated a monumental number of patients, completing 7000 total episodes of care for medical oncology. Before the centre opened, patients were required to travel either to Townsville or Brisbane to receive their treatment, with no radiation therapy services previously available in Mackay.

Its proximity has since saved patients approximately 353,600km in travel - roughly 22 trips around Australia.

Now showing no signs of the disease, Mrs Hine said the experience enabled her to appreciate the "public and private faces” of breast cancer, and the ordeal allowed her to reassess what was important to her.

"You don't really understand the private face until you're going through it... because it's not all pink, it's not all rosy,” Mrs Hine said.

"I was worried about being away for six weeks and not have friends drop by, and on top of that I have three young children so life still had to go on for them. To have all of that eliminated by having that service here was a massive benefit.

"I think when you have a cancer diagnosis it makes you re-evaluate life and what's important... and where you want to spend your time, because time is so precious.”

Icon Year in Review

7,000 total episodes of care for medical oncology.

Over 1,500 day hospital medical oncology treatments.

840 haematology treatments.

Delivered over 3,800 radiation therapy treatments.

Treated 230 new patients for radiation therapy.

Saved approximately 353,600km of travel for Mackay based patients - or 22 trips around Australia.



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