Wimmera Cancer Centre’s green light is a time for reflection | editorial

THE enormity of Tuesday’s $1.6-million cash injection into the Wimmera Cancer Centre means our region will have access to treatment, locally, in a little over a year. 

That’s difficult to fathom. What an incredible benefit this centre will provide to the people of our region. 

Wimmera Health Care Group acting chief Mark Knights said it best, when he labelled Tuesday an “exciting and proud day” for everyone at the organisation – and, indeed, everyone involved with this project.

It was on March 12, 2015 that then Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited Horsham and announced $1 million from the federal government to officially start the campaign to build a cancer centre in our regional city.

In the two years since that announcement, a hard-working band of volunteers formed the Rachael’s Wish fundraising campaign and have gained overwhelming community support to the impressive sum of $1.4 million.

State government coffers also tipped $2.6 million into the project, estimated to open in July and cost a total $5.35 million. 

The sad reality is that this centre will not impact the rapid rate of diagnosis of this horrible disease. In fact, cancer has the highest incidence of any disease in Wimmera and southern Mallee region – meaning the demand for cancer services is growing, and will continue to grow, at a rapid rate.

Wimmera Health Care Group’s oncology unit will treat 2300 patients this year alone. 

What the cancer centre will do is provide people with the best possible chance to fight their diagnosis. 

It will minimise the burden of travel and extra costs to some patients and their families in the most trying of times. 

It is widely, and disturbingly, reported that for every 100 kilometres a person lives from a treatment facility, there is a six per cent less chance of survival. 

The confirmation of that final required funding earlier this week ensures the project expands beyond a redevelopment of the health care group’s oncology unit to include renal dialysis services and palliative care accommodation.

The centre will also include nine new day chemotherapy chairs, a wellness service, six renal dialysis chairs and modern accommodation facilities for palliative care services.

What a wonderful, bittersweet day it will be when the Wimmera Cancer Centre finally opens its doors.  

Jessica Grimble, editor