No help for cancer victim's family
WILSONS CREEK man Ashley Mackinnon will not get any help from Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon with his crippling medical bills racked up in an unsuccessful bid to save his wife from cancer.
Leah Chapman died in 2006 from liver failure, caused by chemotherapy after a long battle with cancer.
That battle included trips to the United States for treatment using high-tech CyberKnife radiotherapy which is not available in Australia.
It was not until after his wife’s death that Mr Mackinnon learned of the Federal Government’s Medical Treatment Overseas Program, which is specifically designed to help Australians who go to other countries to access legitimate medical treatment not available at home.
However, despite providing funding to other Australians seeking Cyber-Knife treatment overseas, the program rejected Mr Mackinnon’s late call for help.
Mr Mackinnon said his call for help was rejected on two of the four criteria that applications under the program have to meet: That the treatment must ‘be significantly life extending and potentially curative’ and that there ‘must be a real prospect for success’.
However, he said he believed he met both those criteria, saying the Cyber-Knife treatments gave Ms Chapman at least an extra two years of life, that it completely removed five brain tumours, and that the device was specifically designed to treat patients with tumours like his wife’s. Apart from that, it was not a failure by the Cyber-Knife treatment that led to Ms Chapman’s death; it was the toxicity of years of chemotherapy treatments.
Mr Mackinnon and The Northern Star went to Richmond MP Justine Elliot for help, who in turn went to Ms Roxon.
However, any hope of the Federal Government stepping in to overturn the decision, or make an ex gratia payment, has been ruled out, with Ms Roxon saying in a letter to Ms Elliot she was powerless to intervene in the decision.
“I am not aware of any other mechanisms within my portfolio through which Mr Mackinnon could access financial assistance,” Ms Roxon adds in the letter.
While that door closes, Mr Mackinnon has been working on opening another: Offering his $650,000 four-bedroom house as a prize in a competition that he hopes will at least cover his debts and moving expenses.
After a strong initial response to the competition, which has a $100 entry fee and requiresentrants to design their own Cyber-Knife page on the social networking website Facebook, entries have slowed and last night hovered around the 1100 mark.
If Mr Mackinnon doesn’t get 5000 entries by the end of the month he will scrap the competition and return the entry fees.
If the competition fails Mr Mackinnon expects to have to give his home to his creditors.
However, he has already received offers on the house as a result of the publicity for the competition, and has been told he has a reasonable prospect of selling it quickly at auction.
For more details on the Facebook competition, or to enter, go to www.cyberknifeaustralia.com/fundraisers.