Calls for cancer nurse

Kingaroy resident Eric Cross signs the petition for a dedicated cancer nurse in the South Burnett.

By Jessica Mcgrath

South Burnett residents are petitioning for a dedicated specialist cancer nurse for their region.

Principle petitioner Eric Cross and his wife Carla know better than most the need for the specialist nurse navigator for the area.

Mr Cross made use of the former specialist nurse’s services when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018.

“It was so useful to me when I was diagnosed,“ he said.

“A position of a nurse navigator would really help.“

When the service ceased in late 2019, there were 76 active clients, with 10 to 12 new referrals each month.

The South Burnett Nurse Naviagor role focused on cancer care was a valued, tailored service which operated in the region for nearly two years.

The rate of people dying from cancer in Murgon, Cherbourg and Wondai is 15 per cent above the national average, and in Kingaroy and Kumbia it is 9 per cent above average.

The Kingaroy couple are well known for their fight with cancer and were the Faces of Relay for the 2019 Kingaroy Relay for Life.

Mr Cross was turning 78 when he was given the news and has since had 39 treatments.

“I’ve come through so far really well,“ he said.

Mrs Cross said the specialist nurse was helpful when it came to information and even the mental health side of dealing with a diagnosis.

“She was a wealth of knowledge,“ she said.

Mr Cross said the nurse helped with directing her patients to information when they were stressed about their diagnosis.

“A lot of people when they are diagnosed, they panic,“ he said.

Mrs Cross has also had her fair share of cancer battles, with four bouts of breast cancer.

She was first diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 41-years-old.

The Birds of a Feather member said she was lucky she was able to have an early diagnosis each time.

The couple have had to travel for all of their treatments but found it handy to have someone locally who was knowledgeable of their cancers.

“Cities have such wonderful facilities, but here in the bush they take it away from us,“ Mrs Cross said.

The specialist nurse would often give information about accomodation options which treatment was in place, answered questions and covered all cancers within her support network.

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington has thrown her support behind the initiative after she had been approached by disappointed residents.

“Local cancer patients appreciated and needed this tailored health care,“ she said.

“In February this year I wrote to the Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service Board calling for the reinstatement of this specialist role.

“However, they have noted that the role will now be general and not specific to a particular disease.“

Burnett cancer patients told Ms Frecklington it was disappointing to lose the essential cancer specific service which guided them through their cancer journey.

While I appreciate this new role is also important, cancer patients are telling me that they are very disappointed to lose this essential cancer specific service, which guided them through their cancer journey.

The petition will be available in hard copy format at Deb Frecklington’s electorate office in Kingaroy and various health businesses around the towns.

It can also be accessible online at bit.ly/31FAGH1

The petition will close on 28 August 28.