Far North Coast Cancer Advocacy Group members (from left) Kerrie Gray, Carole Sherringham and Marian van der Kroon meeting Page
Far North Coast Cancer Advocacy Group members (from left) Kerrie Gray, Carole Sherringham and Marian van der Kroon meeting Page

Cancer survivors push case for Lismore unit

By Alex Easton alex.easton@northernstar.com.au THERE’S nothing like cancer to show you who your friends are, and Federal woman Marian van der Kroon learned she had more than she thought.

Ms van der Kroon has no family in Australia, so it was her network of friends that helped her through the potentially fatal disease – doing things ranging from driving her to and from chemotherapy sessions, to staying with her at home to cook and clean and otherwise care for her while she was too ill to look after herself.

Kerrie Gray, of Alstonville, another cancer survivor, had a similar experience.

“I had two friends knock on the door and one said, ‘Jeff’s here to do some gardening and I’m here to do some housework because we knew you’d never ask’,” Ms Gray recalled.

Both women, along with Broken Head cancer survivor Carole Sherringham, yesterday fronted new Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin at her Lismore office in their role as cancer services advocates for the NSW Cancer Council to grill her about services across the region in general, and the planned radiotherapy unit in particular.

Ms Saffin told the women she was comfortable with the State Government’s commitment to build the unit by the end of next year, with an absolute deadline of March, 2010, secured during the Federal election campaign after her party promised to increase funding for the unit to $15 million.

However, after so many delays and such a long wait for the unit, Ms Gray said she wanted to see the fine detail. The Cancer Council is now preparing for its first training session for advocates on the Far North Coast, planned for February 29 and March 1.

Di Fisher, of the Cancer Council’s Ballina office, said the advocacy program had been behind some high-profile campaigns such as banning smoking in pubs and clubs and banning junk food advertising on children’s television.

Applications for the local program officially close today.



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