Today’s front page story shows the human cost of not planning ahead for vital health services.
Shepparton’s Tracey Visser’s story of being forced to take time out of her job and her family’s needs to travel more than two hours for radiotherapy treatment is a familiar one.
In August we told the story of father and son Chris and Ken Keating who travelled hours and spent thousands of dollars on accommodation to undergo cancer treatments because of a lack of local radiotherapy facilities.
In September we heard from Mooroopna’s Kirstie Bulger who told us she paid out $900 a week in accommodation for several months while undergoing radiotherapy treatment in Melbourne.
Ms Visser’s story shows the upset to ordinary family life that cancer brings is increased severely by time off work, extra Centrelink payments, time away from loved ones and lengthy travel.
None of this would be necessary if Shepparton people could be treated here in their home town.
We have shared these stories because we believe they bring powerful human insights into the cold and clinical process of budgets and planning requirements.
We have been told that a Department of Health and Human Services Cancer Services Plan found there is sufficient demand to maintain an integrated cancer centre here — which would include radiotherapy services.
We also appreciate that adding radiotherapy bunkers to an existing facility is not an easy, or a cheap task.
However, as these stories of increased suffering pile up in our newspaper, so must the pressure be piling up on Health Minister Jill Hennessy to approve funding for radiotherapy services in the second stage of our hospital’s masterplan.
We are still wondering why radiotherapy facilities were not included in the masterplan’s first stage.
That aside — our two local state members have been vocal on this issue — and we are more than happy to add our voice to their call for radiotherapy services here in Shepparton.
Until funding is announced we will keep talking to those people whose lives have been impacted by cancer and the lack of convenient treatment here.
We will keep listening to these people and we will keep printing their stories in the confident hope that those in power are also listening.