IT was a double celebration at the official opening of Western Care Lodge for radiotherapy patients in Orange on Monday.
Not only are more lives being saved because of the Orange-based treatment, but the accommodation lodge is now paid for thanks to the largest single donation to the lodge.
Patricia Finley travelled from the Gold Coast to be personally thanked for her generosity which will leave a legacy in the community.
“I just heard they had a big hole in their budget and thought it was a way to help,” Ms Finley said
Ms Finley’s family was involved in the business community of Orange for years.
At yesterday’s official opening of the now fully occupied lodge attended by donors and supporters of Cancer Care Western NSW, which operates the lodge, the crowd was given an overview of how Orange created medical history by convincing former federal health Minister Tony Abbott to commit $1.3 million to kick-start the project.
“I have no doubt that with the treatment we have here at the hospital in Orange and the ability for people to access accommodation during their treatment, the cure rates for cancer in this region will go up from 30 per cent of the population which wasn’t acceptable compared to the rest of the state,” former Orange surgeon Doctor Stuart Porges said.
“I would tell my patients they had to go to Sydney for treatment for up to six weeks and they would just say to me ‘sorry doc, but I just can’t do it’,” he said.
Orange City Council was thanked by chair of Cancer Care Western NSW John Carpenter who said it was councillors who facilitated the original alliance to get the project off the ground.
Mayor John Davis who is also patron of Cancer Care Western NSW said the choice of Orange for a linear accelerator was obvious due to the critical mass of population.
“But this was never about Orange - it was a project for all people in the central and far west,” he said.
Mr Carpenter congratulated the board responsible for fundraising and managing the Western Care Lodge and in particular Ms Finley for her generous donation.
Member for Orange Andrew Gee told the crowd the securing of two linear accelerators and building an accommodation lodge was a herculean effort.
“You have realised your vision,” he said.
Master of ceremonies for yesterdays official opening Jan Savage who has co-ordinated fundraising was described as a “powerhouse of a woman” for her magnificent efforts.