The Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell has challenged the Health Minister to work with private health provider GenesisCare to provide a publicly funded radiotherapy service in Shepparton.
Ms Lovell said that an answer from Health Minister Jill Hennessy to a previous question she had asked on the issue indicated that the Minister had not met with GenesisCare herself and that it was time she did so.
“Considering the vital need for radiotherapy to be available locally to many Shepparton patients, the Minister needs to meet with GenesisCare urgently to get this facility built and operating.”
Ms Lovell issued her challenge to the Health Minister during an adjournment debate in State Parliament while telling the personal journey of local Shepparton cancer patient Angie Archer.
“Angie Archer is yet another Shepparton cancer patient who is forced to travel for life-saving treatment, away from her family, friends and the comforts of home,” Ms Lovell said.
Ms Lovell said the Health Minister needed to meet with GenesisCare and provide recurrent funding to the facility, ensuring any local treatment service is available to all patients, both public and private.
“Angie Archer is an extremely brave woman currently facing great adversity and I would like to thank her for allowing me to tell her personal journey,” Ms Lovell said.
“Her story personifies the urgent need for a radiotherapy facility to be established in Shepparton, one that is available and affordable to all patients.”
Angie is a 58-year-old woman who lives in Shepparton with her partner and her 32-year-old disabled son Luke. Angie was diagnosed with early breast cancer in early November 2017 and underwent a lumpectomy in mid-December where two lymph nodes were also removed. After recovering from her operation, Angie was given the choice of receiving her six-week course of radiotherapy treatment in either Bendigo or Albury.
Whichever location Angie chose, both would mean that she would be forced to travel for life-saving treatment and be away from the comforts of home for a long period. More pressing for Angie was that by being far from home, she would have to arrange alternate care arrangement for Luke who is severely disabled and requires 24/7 high-end care.
Angie commenced her five-day a week radiotherapy treatment at Peter Mac in Bendigo in late January 2018. Her current weekly routine is to travel over to Bendigo on a Monday morning when she receives her first treatment for the week and then stay at a local caravan park on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, again receiving her daily treatment each morning.
Angie receives her Thursday treatment before travelling back to Shepparton to collect Luke from emergency respite, which is for three nights of the week. Angie then takes Luke to his usual workshop on Friday and travels to Bendigo and back for her final treatment for the week. This allows her to pick up Luke Friday afternoon for the weekend before starting the routine the following Monday.