To highlight the importance to establish appropriate radiotherapy services at Goulburn Valley Health, Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell retold the cancer journeys of a Shepparton father and son during a recent Parliament sitting week.
Speaking during an adjournment debate directed to the Minister for Health, Ms Lovell said the stories of Shepparton father and son Ken and Chris Keating were two of many told to her by local cancer patients and were direct evidence of the importance of accessible radiotherapy treatment for Goulburn Valley residents who need it.
“Sadly the stories of Ken and Chris are all too familiar for any local cancer patients in need of radiotherapy treatment,” Ms Lovell said.
“It once again shows that the Heath Minister’s view that this Government is meeting the needs of Goulburn Valley cancer patients is way off the mark.”
Ms Lovell said that the high rate of cancer diagnosis of Goulburn Valley residents each year made the availability of radiotherapy treatment locally a must.
“Shepparton and the Goulburn Valley are amongst the highest areas of cancer incidences in Victoria and it is unfair that people have to travel such long distances at great expense to receive treatment that is on the doorstep of most other Victorians,” Ms Lovell said.
“I thank Ken and Chris Keating for sharing their stories and I challenge the Health Minister to listen to our community and fund appropriate radiotherapy services at Goulburn Valley Health.”
Ken was diagnosed with cancer in the latter part of last year and his specialist recommended radiotherapy as his treatment plan. Because there were no such services available locally, Ken was forced to uproot and live in Melbourne for nearly three months. He lived in a caravan park, a motel and then finally rented a unit, all at great expense. Away from family and the comforts of home, Ken battled Melbourne traffic to and from hospital every day to receive a ten minute radiotherapy treatment.
Chris was diagnosed with cancer early this year and also required radiotherapy treatment four days a week. With no radiotherapy services in Shepparton, Chris receives his treatment at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Bendigo. As a director of his family business Chris continues to work whilst receiving his treatment, driving the three hour round trip four days a week to receive a ten minute treatment. Because of the time spent travelling, Chris finds he has to work until late in the evening on these days to catch up on his work.