THERE are not many people that can truly say they have helped to change lives.
Cancer Care Western fundraising chair Jan Savage was announced as Orange Woman of the Year on Monday.
For seven years she has volunteered countless hours each week to raise funds for Orange’s Western Care Lodge, a home away from home for people undergoing treatment for cancer.
Cancer first left its mark on Mrs Savage in 1996 when she lost her best friend to the disease. She also fought her own battle with stomach cancer in 2000.
“I felt guilty I survived,” she said
A combination of guilt and the urge to give back to her region prompted her to start years of fundraising for health causes, including Western Care Lodge.
“When you start going out west you realise how different it is ... you’ve got a real geographic distance people need to travel [for treatment],” she said.
“Our region has a significantly high number of people who have cancer ... it scared me for a while.”
The lodge offers twin rooms with private bathrooms for people across western NSW as they undergo treatment from Orange Health Service’s two linear accelerators.
Member for Orange Andrew Gee presented Mrs Savage with her award and said people from regional and rural areas faced hurdles when undergoing treatment for cancer.
He said he knew people who had refused treatment because they simply did not have time to leave their property and travel to Sydney to be treated.
“It’s hard to comprehend but it does happen,” Mr Gee said.
“It’s the tyranny of treatment and distance.”
When Mr Gee nominated Mrs Savage for the award in the NSW Parliament in March 2013 he said she, along with committee chair John Carpenter and vice chair Dr Stuart Porges, were the driving forces behind the lodge.
“It is hard to believe that in this day and age there are people in western NSW who turn down the opportunity of cancer treatment simply because it is too hard to attend for that treatment,” he said.
“In the nine months that followed an announcement that Orange Health Service was to receive a second linear accelerator, Mrs Savage raised more than $750,000 of the approximately $1.2 million needed to extend the Western Care Lodge.
“By Jan raising money for years and years she’s been a part of some life changing, people’s lives will be saved.”
Mrs Savage has left her mark on western NSW, giving people with cancer options they never once had.
Mrs Savage also won the Orange Woman of the Year Award in 2009, and was also a state finalist in the same year. She was also the Orange Citizen of the Year in 2006.