10-year milestone for cancer care centre

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More than 13,500 patients have been treated in the Liz Plummer Cancer Care Centre since the first patient walked through the Far North Queensland facility’s doors a decade ago.

Marking the major milestone today, the Cairns Hinterland Hospital and Health’s Cancer Care and Haematology Unit and Icon Cancer Centre Cairns are thanking staff, patients and the local community for 10 years of support.

The centre was officially opened in 2011 after years of community campaigning as a critical component of the State Government’s $454.6 million redevelopment of the Cairns Base Hospital, and offers medical oncology, haematology and palliative care, alongside radiation oncology delivered in partnership with Icon Cancer Centre Cairns.

Dr Lisa Capelle, CHHHS’ clinical director of cancer care and haematology service, said staff were very proud of how the service had grown since 2011.

“Liz Plummer was a tireless campaigner for radiation oncology services in Cairns,” she said.

“Sadly, Liz passed away two years after a battle with cancer before our centre opened, but I think she would have been very proud to see what we have achieved during the past decade.

“Our centre has become a very successful unit, that is meeting the needs of our community, allowing hundreds of patients to be treated close to their families and friends, rather than having the stress of travelling far from home.

“We would like to thank each and every person who has walked through our doors: staff, patients, family and friends; and community organisations such as COUCH – who helped establish our centre - and the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation who have helped contribute invaluable life-saving equipment to us.”

The Liz Plummer Cancer Care Centre is fully integrated with CHHHS’ other cancer services at Cairns Hospital including day chemotherapy, specialist outpatient clinics, surgical and medical services, and palliative care. Icon provides radiation therapy services at the centre.

Brock Ditton, Icon Cancer Centre Cairns’ site manager, said the thousands of patients who had been through the facility in 10 years showed how important it was to provide world-class cancer therapy services in Far North Queensland.

“Prior to the centre being established, patients had an almost four-and-a-half-hour drive to Townsville as the next closest location for radiation therapy, or to Brisbane or further,” he said.

“This caused emotional, physical and financial stress; and in some circumstances, an inability to receive treatment altogether.

“This centre has given the gift of time and provided much needed care and support to this incredible community.

“Sadly, we all know someone who has been affected by cancer, but together, we will always be ready to roll up our sleeves and make a difference.”

CHHHS chief executive Tina Chinery said from early next year, the Liz Plummer Cancer Care Centre would take the next step forward in delivering world-class cancer care, by replacing its existing two linear accelerators with two cutting-edge linear accelerators.

“We will be bringing the latest in technological advancement to expand on our current services and continue to deliver safe and timely care to our patients,” she said.