When Blair Vining was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in October he was told he would live six to eight weeks without treatment – and it would take eight weeks to get his first oncologist appointment.
. . . He couldn’t wait that long, went private and is on drugs that have bought him time.
Vining did not have eight weeks to wait, so he went private and the treatment process started within three weeks.
He is on drugs which are costly but buying him time; he’s hoping for another six months.
That’s long enough to keep pushing the Government to form a cancer action plan that ensures faster treatment for patients across the country.
He was not scared of his future, saying it was the hand he was dealt.
His mission now was to make the system better for his own two girls and other New Zealanders.
“I need it sorted for my kids and the future of New Zealand.
“I am very passionate about it, it makes me want to stay around a lot longer to see it actually happen.” . .
One of those things is funding for a national cancer agency with oversight of care throughout the country :
. . . Mr Vining has lived a lot of life in the nine months since his diagnosis, but there is one thing he still wants to tick off his bucket list.
“The part that really got to me when I got diagnosed was the lack of prevention and misdiagnosis. It’s not just my story, so many people are being misdiagnosed and they’re not being diagnosed early enough. The lack of prevention in New Zealand is not good enough.”
Most district health boards are falling short when it comes to cancer care and there is no accountability, Mr Vining said.
That was where a national agency with oversight of the whole country could be a game changer. . .
Lack of prevention, misdiagnosis, late diagnosis, and delays in treatment are sadly not confined to bowel cancer and are not unusual.
A patient with cancer is more likely to be diagnosed early, receive treatment sooner and have a better chance of survival in Australia than in New Zealand, Blair said there’s a post code lottery for treatment in New Zealand:
“It’s a postcode lottery,” he said. “If you live in Auckland you get really good treatment, you get seen really quick.
“If you live down in Southland, which has some of the worst rates of bowel cancer in the world, it makes life a lot more difficult because if you have to go private, you have to travel to Dunedin.”. .
There is an urgent need for better cancer care throughout the country. A national cancer agency, properly resourced, could make a difference to prevention, detection, treatment and survival.
Blair has launched a petition seeking better cancer care for all New Zealanders. You can sign it here and have until tomorrow to do so.