WATCH: Take a walk through Hervey Bay's new cancer centre
WHEN Sally Mackay was first diagnosed with breast cancer more than a year ago, she was told by other patients and nurses to go to Brisbane if she wanted high-quality treatment.
By the time Mrs Mackay had completed her treatment, she was receiving it at the new $17 million Hervey Bay Cancer Care Centre in Medical Pl, Urraween.
She completed one round of chemotherapy in Brisbane, and said the experience was miserable.
"It was so hard to leave my two children and then to drive back up when you're feeling so sick is horrible," Mrs Mackay said.
"There were times when I thought the treatment wasn't worth the trip."
Because she could not stand the four-hour drive and three-night stays so far away from her loved ones, she had her second round at the Hervey Bay Base Hospital in the old cancer treatment ward.
"The staff were honestly wonderful and they gave me the best treatment they could," she said.
"But it's hard to feel dignified when you're getting chemo in a room with 10 other people."
Mrs Mackay's third and final round was delivered in the new centre.
"You have a choice here to be alone during your treatment, or out with other people who are getting it too," she said.
"It makes such a difference to be close to your family; I would just text my husband when I was done and he would pick me up in 10 minutes."
The centre officially opened on Tuesday, and is expected to treat about 750 cancer patients in the next year.
Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service clinical director of cancer care services Ray Johnson said that was hundreds of people who could stay in the community for treatment.
"Going back five years, we would only treat 240 patients a year," Mr Johnson said.
"That doesn't say we have more people with cancer now, that says we can treat more at home."
Although Mrs Mackay is now in remission, she will still be visiting the centre for the next 10 years for check-ups.
"For me to see others facing the trauma of treatment every time I need to come back, I think that would have been too much," she said.
"That's not the case here; you don't have to see it."