A CFA volunteer firefighter and breast cancer survivor has shared her story and the support she received with the hope she can help others in a similar situation.
As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Dandenong volunteer Rachel Rendall wants her fellow CFA firefighters to be aware of the financial support available to them through the State Government’s presumptive rights compensation scheme, which assisted her during the fight for her life.
Rachel Rendall has been a CFA volunteer firefighter since 2004. She discovered her devastating cancer diagnosis in June 2022 which turned her world upside down.
“It was a shock to hear the news. There is no family history of cancer. I was worried about how I would cope during treatment and what my prognosis would be,” Rachel said.
“My treatment began in July 2022 and I completed active treatment last month. I’m now considered 'cancer free' and I’m currently celebrating this milestone in Scotland with family.”
Prior to Rachel’s diagnosis, she was aware of the presumptive rights available for a list of cancers, but she assumed it was mostly applicable to men. It was her 1st Lieutenant who encouraged her to investigate, and they found that breast cancer was one of the listed cancers.
She promptly applied for compensation by submitting her medical records and her case was successful.
“I was pleasantly surprised by how simple and quick the process was,” Rachel said.
“I believe I’m one of the first female CFA volunteers to receive compensation through the presumptive rights scheme and I began to wonder if, like me, other women weren’t aware they could qualify.
“I really want to encourage other women to apply, as it has made a huge difference to the financial and personal stresses that go with treatment.
“I really hope my story helps other women with their cancer journey and I hope the process is as smooth as it was for me.”
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said the presumptive rights scheme is important legislation for our members who are suffering a firefighting-related cancer or may be impacted by cancer in the future.
“I’m really pleased to hear how successful this process was for Rachel and other firefighters who have also benefited from the scheme,” CO Heffernan said.
“The State Government recently announced the addition of three more cancers which means 15 types of cancer are now on the list, further supporting the lives of our firefighters.”
Presumptive compensation means an eligible firefighter doesn’t have to prove that firefighting is the cause of their cancer when they make a claim.
For more information visit the Worksafe website.