Kids with cancer will have access to the best of care at Australia’s first Comprehensive Children’s Cancer Centre and a new emergency department at the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick.
The NSW and federal governments have committed $528 million to fund the centre, which will bring the latest scientific discovery at the lab bench directly to the bedside with both medical researchers and clinicians working side-by-side in the same facility.
Sarah and Joshua Weir whose daughter Evie passed away from neuroblastoma just before Christmas 2017 are grateful that the Government is stepping up their responsibility to kids with cancer. Since Evie’s diagnosis in 2013 when she was two years old, the Weir family have become ardent advocates and fundraisers for childhood cancer research.
“As a mother of a child who lost their life to childhood cancer, I am invested in and passionate about finding a cure through research,” said Sarah.
“When other people get on board, especially the Government, it means so much to families like ours. It sometimes feels overwhelming at how much money and research is needed, and you wonder if we will ever get there to make a difference, but every bit counts,” she said.
“We are lucky to live in such an amazing country, and we’d love to see more of this. It will never be enough to bring our girl back, but we will continue to use Evie’s story and legacy to make a difference,” said Sarah.
L-R: Sarah and Evie Weir at a candle light vigil to launch Childhood Cancer Awareness Month 2017.
Associate Professor David Ziegler, an oncologist and researcher who represents The Kids’ Cancer Project as chair of their Research Advisory Committee is thrilled with the announcement.
“The investment in Australia’s first children’s comprehensive cancer centre is a testament to the cutting edge research being conducted at the Children’s Cancer Institute and the Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital,” he said.
“This new state of the art facility will create even more opportunity to make a difference for children with cancer and ensure that Australia is a world leader in developing new treatments and better outcomes for childhood cancer patients,” said Associate Professor David Ziegler.
Peter and Shirley Austen’s 10-year-old son Alec continues to recover from his cancer treatment, so they were ecstatic when they heard the news, and urge those in charge not to falter in their promises.
"This announcement is the best news the parents of a twin child diagnosed with aggressive childhood cancer (now in remission) could be,” Peter said. “The collaboration of top scientists, experts, dedicated staff and, world class facilities is crucial to one day eradicating, or at least controlling these horrid diseases.”
“We don’t know what the future holds for so many children dealing with cancer, but this initiative gives us a greater hope that it’s a positive one,” said Shirley. “Please don’t stall. This is far more important to so many children and parents, than a flash new stadium or two.”
Alec appears in a TV commercial with his oncologist, Dr Luciano Dalla-Pozza.
Tim Blair, a Tasmanian who set up the Run For Kids Foundation that raises money for childhood cancer is also pleased to see policy makers take charge. He attributes it largely to a groundswell of community awareness through Childhood Cancer Awareness Month held annually in September.
“I always tell people that with awareness comes funding and this is a prime example of just that,” he said. “This facility is a major step in what we are all fighting for and that is to give our children the best chance in overcoming cancer and one day finding a cure.”
“I am always interested to read or hear of progress in treatment, research and most importantly progress in finding a cure for this insidious disease, so I look forward to watching the progress and also the snowball effect this will create with other state governments,” said Tim.
Read more: Australian first in care for kids with cancer.
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