JUST about everyone in the community knows someone affected by cancer, and many people diagnosed with the disease make regular and arduous trips to Canberra or Sydney for treatment.
But not eveyone knows about the oncology (cancer) unit at the Cooma Hospital, which appears to be a well-kept secret.
The unit was established six years ago and can provide chemotherapy, advice and support to cancer sufferers and their families.
Clinical nurse specialist and oncology nurse Sandy Nagle said the unit caters for a wide area from the Victorian border to Michelago.
"It is here if you are diagnosed with cancer," Ms Nagle said.
"While patients are waiting for an appointment, we are here to give advice and support.
"You don't need a referral, just walk into the clinic and tell me your story," Ms Nagle said.
"We provide support, it is not just about treatment, just knowing there is someone local is important.
"We can also arrange for others services for the patient, including a community nurse to help at home, counselling, financial support and homecare."
Ms Nagle said the feedback from patients has been very positive about the convenience of the unit close to home so they don't have to travel to Canberra or Sydney.
Cooma Hosptial manager Antje Badger wants to get the word out that most people can be treated in the oncology unit at the Cooma Hospital under the specialist expertise of Ms Nagle.
"Sandy has additional qualifications in oncology and haematology," Ms Badger said.
"We are very fortunate indeed to have a staff member with such experience and skills.
"I am appreciative of her mentoring of other staff and the education she imparts."
Ms Nagle paid tribute to the Monaro Committee for Cancer Research (McCr) and the Cancer Council.
"The mcCr has been enormously generous in purchasing equipment and a whole range of things," Ms Nagle said.
"We couldn't run the clinic without them."
Ms Nagle said the Cancer Council also assists with information about cancer.
"The mcCr can assist with the financial needs of patients through the financial assistance scheme, and they also supply daily newspapers and magazines in the unit."
Ms Badger said there are about five staff in the oncology unit, which is open from Monday to Thursday.
For more information about the oncology unit at the Cooma Hospital call 64553345.