EVERY day for two months, Geoff Crockett spent more than two hours driving to and from Newcastle in order to receive radiation therapy for prostate cancer.
"Every single day, excluding weekends, for two months," the man from Tea Gardens, north of Newcastle, said.
The travelling, on top of the "all-consuming" treatment, was demanding, mentally and even socially. Physically, it was "utterly exhausting".
"I was warned that about half way through my treatment I would become really, really tired," he said.
"And I did. I am also a farmer from out western NSW, and if I had had to drive 200 or 300 kilometres after that treatment each day, I can tell you it would not have taken much to have an accident or plough into a kangaroo."
Speaking at the national launch of "Radiation Therapy for Regional Australia" at Genesis Care, Gateshead, on Monday, Mr Crockett urged the Federal Government to commit to improving access to radiation therapy for people living in rural areas.
The Radiation Therapy Advisory Group campaign is aimed at giving every cancer patient a "fair go", regardless of where they live, Hunter-based radiation oncologist, Associate Professor Peter O'Brien, said.
"There are patients that have to travel more than 400 kilometres to find their nearest radiation therapy centre," he said. "The problem is, for patients who need to travel long distances, some of them will actually make the decision not to have treatment as a consequence.
"Leaving your loved ones, your family, your friends, and having to live away from home for many weeks is a serious problem and an emotional burden on many, many families."
He said people with cancer in regional areas were up to 35 per cent more likely to die within five years of diagnosis than those living in metropolitan areas.
"For indigenous Australians, those outcomes can be even worse," he said. "We know that where radiotherapy isn't used for patients, that cure rates, survival, and symptom control also goes down.
He said there were 13 sites in Australia, identified based on populations of 30,000 or more, where patients had to travel at least two hours to access radiotherapy.
"Only one in three Australian cancer patients receive radiation therapy. That number should be one in two - in line with Europe and North America.
"The Federal Government and Opposition must take action. Cancer doesn't discriminate, nor should cancer treatments."
Lee Hunt, of Cancer Voices NSW, said postcodes should not dictate survival outlooks.
"Without more of these treatment centres, the survival rates are just not going to be there for country cancer patients," she said.