Pirie lymphoedema sufferers to benefit from subsidy

Lymphoedema sufferers across the state will soon be relieved of financial stress thanks to a compression garment subsidy.

About 300,000 Australians will be affected by lymphoedema in their lifetime, with breast cancer survivors often facing the condition after lymph nodes are removed or damaged during surgery and radiation treatment.

The condition causes swelling in limbs and other areas of the body, affecting mobility and causing severe pain.

The garments are a vital medical aid for the management of the condition and cost sufferers more than $3500 a year to replace.

SUPPORT: Flinders Medical Centre director of the lymphoedema clinical research unit Professor Neil Piller with Lymphoedema Support Group SA president Monique Bareham. Ms Bareham has visited Port Pirie on several occasions with Prof. Neil Piller and his team for lymphoedema assessment and information events.

SUPPORT: Flinders Medical Centre director of the lymphoedema clinical research unit Professor Neil Piller with Lymphoedema Support Group SA president Monique Bareham. Ms Bareham has visited Port Pirie on several occasions with Prof. Neil Piller and his team for lymphoedema assessment and information events.

Lymphoedema Support Group SA president Monique Bareham has been working towards the subsidy for the past six years and said it is a "relief" to know that this will be life changing for so many people.

Ms Bareham has a strong connection to Georgetown in the Mid North and lives with breast cancer related lymphoedema.

"Garments themselves are very costly and they have to be specially prescribed and fitted," she said.

"For me I was having to spend an out of pocket cost of $800 every six month, which I can't afford.

"I do what most people have been doing and making them last as long as you can and juggling the financial burden.

Ms Bareham said up until now South Australia was the only jurisdiction in Australia without a compression subsidy scheme.

"Over the last six years I have travelled pretty much the length and breadth of South Australia and we have been to Port Pirie on a couple of occasions and spoken to many people," she said.

"When I sat down and thought about all those people that I had spoken to over time and that they no longer need to worry about this, I just cried.

"To hear people say things like 'I can actually buy my grand kids some Christmas presents this year'.

"It is a huge relief and this will be life changing for so many people."

RELIEF: Lymphoedema physiotherapist Andrea Mangion and Lymphoedema Support Group SA president Monique Bareham. Ms Bareham said the subsidy will relieve a financial burden for lymphoedema sufferers.

RELIEF: Lymphoedema physiotherapist Andrea Mangion and Lymphoedema Support Group SA president Monique Bareham. Ms Bareham said the subsidy will relieve a financial burden for lymphoedema sufferers.

Ms Bareham said Independent Frome MP Geoff Brock has been a big supporter of LSGSA and thanked him for his assistance with the subsidy.

Mr Brock campaigned for the subsidy and recently received a positive outcome in an announcement from Health and Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wade.

"The new scheme, announced by Minister Wade, provides for 100 percent subsidy for eligible people, enabling access for up to two sets of garments as clinically required, every six months," he said.

"I am thrilled for the people of South Australia, and particularly those in my electorate, who will receive support to purchase these vital garments to help manage their condition."

The subsidy will be rolled out in two phases for eligible people, with Port Pirie's GP Plus Clinic to be included in phase two, which will be introduced in September.

Port Pirie Regional Health Service breast care and lymphoedema nurse Ros Mayfield said she was happy that it had finally been funded.

"It is exciting for people with lymphoedema because the garments can get quite expensive, particularly if they need to be custom-made," she said.

"It is a big weight off the shoulders of my clients.

"I would like to make sure that people are aware of it and they can consult with us if they would like to be measured for garments at the GP Plus lymphoedema clinic, but we do prefer that they have a referral from their doctor."

SUPPORT: Flinders Medical Centre director of the lymphoedema clinical research unit Professor Neil Piller with Lymphoedema Support Group SA president Monique Bareham. Ms Bareham has visited Port Pirie on several occasions with Prof. Neil Piller and his team for lymphoedema assessment and information events.

SUPPORT: Flinders Medical Centre director of the lymphoedema clinical research unit Professor Neil Piller with Lymphoedema Support Group SA president Monique Bareham. Ms Bareham has visited Port Pirie on several occasions with Prof. Neil Piller and his team for lymphoedema assessment and information events.

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