Wayne and Val Meanwell.
Wayne and Val Meanwell. The Northern Star

Cancer patient joins the fight for scanner

BYRON BAY businessman Warren Meanwell has joined doctors, politicians and community members in the campaign to get a PET/CT scanner for the Northern Rivers.

Mr Meanwell, 47, was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma on his ankle two years ago and has had to travel to Brisbane four times for positron emission tomography scans.

“It started on my right leg, just above the ankle, as a mole the size of a match head,” he said.

“Through self-diagnosis I noticed a change in the mole and went to the doctor to have it removed straight away.”

Unfortunately, the cancer had metastasised, which means it had travelled through the lymphatic system or blood stream and started in other parts of his body.

Over the past two years Mr Meanwell has had four operations and is going up to Brisbane about every three months to have a PET scan.

“The danger for me is if it gets into the most critical organs like the brain, the liver or the lungs,” he said.

“For melanoma there is no blood test available, so you need a PET scan for it which will diagnose a tumour as small as 2mm in diameter.

“As far as a diagnostic tool goes, the PET scan is the best that's available.”

Mr Meanwell said the return trip from his Federal home to Brisbane, including the scan, took 11 hours.

“To have a PET/CT scanner in this area would benefit so many people, not just people like me who are living with cancer,” he said.

The scanners are not just used to diagnose cancers. They can detect heart disease and brain disorders. It is estimated a PET/CT scanner would cost about $5 million and a lobby group is trying to raise $100,000 to show the support of the community.

A black-tie fundraising ball is being held at the Ballina RSL Club on Saturday night.

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