First sod to be turned tomorrow

27 Jun, 2007 12:15 PM

Doctor's vision for cancer clinic comes to fruition

WHAT started as a Milton doctor's vision will come to fruition tomorrow with a sod-turning ceremony marking the commencement of the Milton cancer clinic.

Three years ago Doctor Brett Thomson mooted the idea for a cancer facility next to Milton Hospital to reduce the stress and travel burden on local cancer patients.

Today he pays tribute to a community that has taken his idea and run with it.

"This project provides a powerful endorsement of a community getting off its butt and getting its hands dirty.

"Whether it was a function, a raffle ticket, an auction or just turning up to a meeting to show we meant business, the community never faltered," Dr Thomson said.

Federal Member for Gilmore Joanna Gash will don the spade at tomorrow's 'ground breaking' ceremony and luncheon which will be attended by representatives of community groups that have thrown their support behind the Cancer Outpatients Appeal.

 

So impressed was the Federal Government by the town's ability to raise more than $350,000 for the project in three years, that it last year agreed to contribute a further $498,000 to allow building work to commence.

Mrs Gash has commended the people of Milton-Ulladulla for their efforts and said she was honoured to be turning the first sod.

"The battle for improved cancer care services in our region has been long and hard and it has been led by Dee and her team," Mrs Gash said.

"I can remember when Dee first came to me and sought my support in lobbying for Australian Government funding and her determination and passion for the cancer care centre project was and remains indefatigable.

"The Australian Government under its Regional Partnerships program has committed funding totalling $498,300 to the project and you will rarely see money better spent."

Dr Thomson also paid tribute to Dee and the appeal committee.

"We have had an ebb and flow of people with the various skills we needed at each step of the fund raising and development of the project to make all this happen. "Without this sustained support we would not have had this service for many years," he added.

Dr Thomson said his idea came about when some of his patients were forced to travel to Nowra or Wollongong for chemotherapy and cancer support services and were returning home exhausted, dehydrated and in pain.

"Around the same time the area health service was about to sell off Minto House and it occurred to me that if I called on the community and put some money in the pool, that others would follow suit and that we could enhance and develop local services," Dr Thomson recalled.

"Soon many of the other doctors came good and many community members and local businesses did likewise.

"The rest is history," he said.

Dr Thomson also reminds Milton-Ulladulla residents that people in rural areas still have a 30 per cent greater chance of dying prematurely from cancer than urban people in NSW.