Bezzina House is a home away from home
Receiving the news that Geoff Diefenbach’s prostate cancer had returned brought with it a terrible fear of the unknown about what would happen next. Having gone through radiation treatment 16 years ago, Geoff needed different treatment options this time around.
Thankfully he is a candidate for brachytherapy, a form of radiation therapy used to treat prostate cancer that involves implanting tiny radioactive seeds into the prostate gland. However, this treatment is not available near Geoff’s home in Wanniassa, ACT, where he lives with his wife Karen.
Patients travel from across the country to St George Hospital to receive this specialised treatment, many of whom stay at Bezzina House across the road from the hospital while receiving their treatment.
“It’s wonderful to be able to stay so close to the hospital, it’s so close and handy,” Geoff said.
Bezzina House was purpose built in 1998, with funds raised by the Sutherland Shire and St George Community, to support patients who travel from rural areas and interstate to receive specialised cancer treatment. There are 15 self-contained rooms, a common room, laundry, onsite parking and a sun-filled courtyard with lush gardens for patients and their families to enjoy.
This is the third time Geoff and Karen have stayed at Bezzina House for Geoff’s appointments and treatment.
“It’s made our life so much easier to be able to stay here and we just love it, it feels like you have a home away from home,” Karen said.
Manager of Bezzina House, Denise Clancy ensures all guests at Bezzina House feel welcome and comfortable.
“Speaking with Denise took all our stress away, she is so welcoming and warm, as are all the staff here, and I couldn’t recommend Bezzina House more highly,” said Karen.
“It’s so easy, affordable, comfortable, clean and tidy and so close to the hospital so you don’t need to worry about travelling to appointments or finding parking,” Geoff added.
Geoff and Karen will return to Bezzina House in November when Geoff’s brachytherapy treatment begins.
“Denise lets me take succulent cuttings from the garden and I bring her cuttings from home each time we stay,” Geoff said, illustrating the warm relationship Denise has built with her guests.
Some patients and/or carers stay at Bezzina House for a single night, others for extended periods up to months, depending on their needs.
“Bezzina House provides accommodation for patients and their carers who travel to St George Hospital for a range of specialised treatments. We also have people stay who are family members of ICU patients who have been airlifted from country NSW. We will help anyone in need if we have the room,” said Denise.
Specialised treatments offered at St George Hospital that are not widely available include Brachytherapy, Lutate Therapy, stem cell transplant, radiation therapy and peritonectomy surgery.
Bezzina House is self-funded, relying on revenue from room charges and donations to function and make necessary upgrades. COVID had an impact on Bezzina House’s income, when some surgeries were limited and visitors were restricted.
‘Of the 15 rooms, 10 require updating as they have original fittings and fixtures,’ Denise said.
“Room charges are deliberately kept low so families who are already undergoing a difficult time don’t have to pay high costs for their accommodation as well. Because of this, we rely on generous donations from our community to ensure we can keep the rooms comfortable and up to date,” Denise explained.
Items currently needed include funds to cover renovation building costs, ovens, cook tops, bar fridges, sofa lounges, single ensemble beds, laminate flooring, bedside lamps, roller blinds, TV’s, kettles and toasters.
For donations to Bezzina House, please contact 9113 2555 or visit https://secure.donman.net.au/client/stgh/stgh.asp