Mornington resident, Nancy Matthews said that having most of her recent cancer treatment so close to home at The Bays Hospital made the difficult experience much more bearable.

“I’m so thankful I only had to go as far as The Bays for my surgeries and chemotherapy treatment. It was tremendous having such a short drive to get my treatment, and made it easier for my family and friends who took me,” said Nancy. “The Bays Day Infusion Unit encouraged me to bring support people and even included them at morning tea and lunchtime.”

Nancy felt a small lump in her breast on New Year’s Day this year, and was referred to The Bays breast surgeon Miss Belinda Brown to have it removed.

“We assumed we’d caught it early because it was a small lump, but it turned out to be stage 3 breast cancer,” said Nancy.

Nancy was then referred to The Bays medical oncologist Associate Professor Zee Wan Wong, and underwent 13 weeks of chemotherapy to shrink the tumour before undergoing more surgery.

“During chemo I felt pretty horrible, but the Day Infusion Unit nurses at The Bays were absolutely wonderful. They went beyond the call of duty,” Nancy said.

Since radiation therapy is not yet available on the Mornington Peninsula, Nancy had to travel to Frankston each weekday morning for 3 weeks.

“Because I had to have my arms above my head for radiation treatment, it was much more painful than I’d expected, as it stirred up the arthritis in my shoulder and caused severe muscle spasms.”

“My husband Richard had prostate cancer 12 years ago and he used to drive himself in for radiation therapy, so I wasn’t expecting it to be so difficult, but I felt dreadful,” Nancy explained.

From late 2024, local residents will no longer need to travel beyond the Peninsula for radiation therapy, when The Bays will open its new Cancer Care Centre, which will also feature research facilities for clinical trials, a wellness and education centre, consulting suites, and a wig library.

“If The Bays Cancer Care Centre was opened back when Richard had cancer, he could have just walked the 10 minutes from our home!” Nancy said.

“Unfortunately I suffered terrible side effects from the radiotherapy. When I attended The Bays Day Infusion in the afternoon for my intravenous Herceptin treatment, nurse Marnie was concerned that my blood pressure was very high,” she added.

“Marnie was so empathic and put me on a pain regime that made it bearable, and I didn’t have muscle spasms anymore. It was wonderful that she treated me for a problem that wasn’t even caused by the treatment she was giving me. The McGrath Breast Care Nurses at The Bays were also terrific. I wish I could have had all my treatment at The Bays,” said Nancy.

“I was also fortunate that I didn’t lose my hair due to chemotherapy as I chose to use a scalp cooling cap. It was a terrible drag but I decided to stick with it, and I did manage to keep my hair.”

Nancy is now having Herceptin treatment until February 2024.

“After my second surgery I was offered more chemotherapy, but I declined because it was extremely challenging. I’m 86 years of age so I have to be prepared to have a shorter life, and quality of life is very important.”

The Bays Healthcare Group CEO, Jade Phelan, said: “The Bays Hospital has a long history of caring for patients with cancer. According to Cancer Australia, it is estimated that around 2 in 5 people will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85. While our new Cancer Care Centre will expand our service to include more life-saving treatments, our focus will also be on being proactive about prevention and providing cancer screening services.”

The Bays received a portion of Federal Government funding for the new Cancer Care Centre, but a funding shortfall remains. As an independent, not-for-profit hospital, it now needs community and philanthropic support to help complete this important project.

Donate to The Bays Cancer Care Centre project online, call 5970 5329 or email