'My five-week journey at Greenhill Lodge and Royal Adelaide Hospital'

I looked up at the mural on the ceiling of the radiotherapy treatment room at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The long limbs of gum trees reached for the sky beside a creek - a peaceful scene.

"I have got cancer," I thought, somewhat belatedly as the Trilogy radiation-beam machine modules rotated around my body.

While receiving the life-saving doses of treatment, one's mind focusses on the essence of being.

Outside, men and women wait for their turn on the machines - their thoughts, too, with their own mortality.

But there are practical considerations - how to get your bladder full so that the cancer-ravaged prostate gland can be in the best position for the beam.

My record must be five bottles of water to get to the required level of "busting" for the toilet. After the treatment, there is a mad dash to the nearest toilet, of which there are thankfully many in the new hospital, to relieve myself.

The smiling staff are truly the best asset at the health service. The tinkling of the piano in the main foyer of the building serves to distract your thoughts from the maudlin.

The only problem about the hospital is the lack of spaces in the public carpark. Still, there are locations nearby that can cater for the ... well, overflow.

I stayed at Greenhill Lodge for the five weeks of my treatment. The lodge, in Greenhill Road, is a former motel that mostly accommodates cancer patients and is run by Cancer Council SA.

Guests sign over their Patient Assisted Transport Scheme benefits in return for a room as well as subsidised meals, use of a laundry, kitchen and recreation room and access to bus trips to the hospitals.

Cancer Council SA chief executive officer Lincoln Size estimates that it costs $2 million yearly to offer accommodation at Greenhill Lodge and Flinders Lodge, in Dequetteville Terrace, Kent Town.

He said that last year 30,425 nights of accommodation were provided to 8938 guests including some from Port Pirie.

Two social workers knock on the doors to check on the welfare of guests.

"If someone has to leave their farm for three weeks to come down for treatment, the social workers will help them," he said.

"We have a community space area at the lodge where people can read, do a jigsaw puzzle or use the internet.

"We try to make it a home away from home.

"The reaction is positive ... that would be an understatement." Port Pirie residents have a special stake in the Cancer Council, having raised almost $50,000 for the charity at this year's Relay for Life at Woodward Park.

Angelina Baron, who is based at the Cancer Council in Adelaide and is involved in promoting the relay, said some of the money goes to Greenhill Lodge. "It is a huge area of support that we focus on and you now know the value of it," she told me.

Yes, indeed. Hopefully, I will conquer cancer and my life will go on for as long as the pleasant scene remains on the ceiling of the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

And, I may not be tinkling in desperation any more, but the ivories will continue to be tinkled as the hospital's musical welcome to the wonders of medical science.

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