IN THE past, Nell Wilkinson would visit the Calvary Mater hospital for chemotherapy two days a week, three weeks out of four.
She would drop her five year old daughter, Chaleigh, at preschool, then drive from Metford to Waratah, find a park, wait for treatment, then drive back home.
Now, Ms Wilkinson - who has multiple myeloma - doesn't even have to get out of her pyjamas if she chooses.
Since August, she has been receiving her chemotherapy infusions at home.
"It is hard to explain how awesome it really is," Ms Wilkinson said. "It's nice to be in your own home obviously - and COVID plays a part in that right now, but ultimately, being in the comfort of your own home - you're in your own space.
"There is less hassle with travel. It is more relaxing. Less stressful."
"Chemo@home" launched in the Hunter in August to allow cancer patients and those with compromised immune systems to receive chemotherapy in their homes, instead of going to hospital for treatment.
Ms Wilkinson was originally diagnosed with the blood cancer in October, 2015. She had a stem cell transplant, and chemotherapy. For a while, everything was going well.
"In July of last year it came back," she said. "It was devastating. It was just a few days after my 40th birthday. Surprise! Happy birthday to me."
She will need chemotherapy twice a week, for three weeks a month, indefinitely.
"Doing chemo at home still allows me to work my two jobs, and it gives me more time to focus on what really matters," she said.
Hunter haematologist Dr Wojt Janowski said for cancer patients like Ms Wilkinson, the chemotherapy at home program was ideal.
"It means she can have a lot more time to just do the things she wants to do; spend time with her family instead of being in a waiting room," he said.
"Coming from Metford, it was a long drive every time, and a lot of sitting and waiting. Now, getting her treatment has gone from taking about half a day down to about 45 minutes or so.
"It allows her to have it in an environment where she is not surrounded by people who are unwell - which can be difficult, particularly when you can be confronted by people who may have the same disease as you and perhaps you can see they are not looking as well as you feel."
Dr Janowski said this program was generally only available for people with private health insurance.
"Most health funds will pay for that to happen," he said. "Not every oncologist or haematologist may be able to offer it, but if people are keen on exploring it, they should ask their treating doctor whether it might be an option for them."
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