Father refused cancer rehab over 1km border rule: 'Ridiculous'

·3-min read

A father who is learning to walk again after battling a rare cancer is being denied access to vital rehabilitation services just 20 minutes from his home.

Brett Arthur has been attending a rehabilitation program at Queensland’s John Flynn Hospital, around 1.5km over the state border, after suffering muscle damage from radiation and losing parts of his thigh, hamstring, glute and iliotibial tract.

Brett Arthur is learning to walk again after battling cancer but has been refused access to rehabilitation services in Queensland, just 20 minutes from his home in northern NSW, following a snap lockdown. Source: Supplied
NSW Far North Coast resident Brett Arthur has been battling cancer and has been refused access to rehabilitation services in Queensland following a snap lockdown. Source: Supplied

The 47-year-old from Cabarita Beach in northern NSW was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma in September last year, forcing him to regularly travel across the Queensland border for treatment. 

In the past six months, the father of three has undergone six surgeries, suffered a bout of sepsis, spent time in intensive care on a ventilator and required multiple blood transfusions.

“They thought I wouldn’t survive. I thought I was going to die. It was horrific for my wife,” he told Yahoo News.

Brett Arthur being treated in hospital.
Border issues have impacted Brett's treatment, care and recovery. Source: Supplied
Map showing the distance from the John Flynn Private Hospital to the border of Queensland and NSW.
John Flynn Private Hospital sits just over 1km from the Queensland-NSW border. Source: Google Maps

Brett said border issues have constantly interrupted his care and created extra stress.

“It’s been unbelievable to be quite honest, it couldn’t have been any worse,” he said.

“If you live 10 minutes north of the hospital, you're fine but 10 minutes south and you’re not, it's ridiculous.”

Snap lockdown slows recovery

His recovery has again been stalled after a reality TV staffer tested positive to Covid-19 while filming in the area, triggering a snap lockdown.

The woman was a crew member of the British reality TV show, I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!.

“Got a call on Monday to say they were accepting me back into the rehabilitation program and would provide me with a letter to allow me to cross the border,” he explained.

“Then I got a message the next day saying, 'false alarm, you can’t come until lockdown has finished'.”

Brett Arthur pictured in hospital with his three kids.  Source: Supplied
The father of three, who almost died earlier this year, said his recovery has suffered major setbacks. Source: Supplied

He had seven appointments booked, all of which have been cancelled, along with his border pass.

“Just a frustrating environment living where we live,” he said.

“It’s absolutely had a setback on my rehab. I'm still on crutches and walking better but I can’t sit in a chair at all. I have been improving but it’s just slowed down.”

Father issues life-saving reminder

Amid the Covid chaos, Brett is pleading with people to not ignore other health concerns.

“My message is to get any lumps checked,” he said.

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