Thursday, 30 October 2014
International Brain Tumour Awareness Week
I rise to talk about an issue that is seldom talked about. As some of you may know and some may not, this week is International Brain Tumour Awareness Week. Certainly there is no known cause of brain tumours nor are there any proven prevention measures. The reason I rise to speak on this issue is to help spread the awareness of the devastating impacts that brain tumours can have.
I recently met with my constituent, Mr Keith Francis, who brought this matter to my attention. Mr Francis was diagnosed with a stage 4 brain tumour on his way to work one morning and by the next day he had been operated on and was set on a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. For the benefit of the House, a stage 4 brain tumour is the most aggressive stage of brain tumour a person can be diagnosed with. Naturally, Mr Francis's world was turned upside down within a matter of moments. To make matters worse, after taking some time off work to recuperate, Mr Francis was served his resignation papers and told he could not even go back to his office to collect his personal belongings, including photographs of his family. While Mr Francis's dismissal was deemed legally correct, it is arguable that it is morally wrong to dismiss someone who has just gone through such a life-changing experience, especially when that person has remained at work whilst undergoing their treatment as Mr Francis did.
I stand here today to represent my constituent at a time in his life when he has experienced little representation as he navigated his new path in life. Not only that, but I stand here today to represent all of those people who have suffered or whose loved ones have suffered at the hands of this terrible illness. Brain tumours are the leading cause of child deaths in Australia and kill more adults in Australia under the age of 40 than any other cancer. Despite increases in survival rates for sufferers of other cancers, the survival rate for those with brain cancer has barely increased in the last 30 years in this country.
Not only does brain cancer carry a high personal cost; it also bears a significant financial cost. Brain cancer is the most expensive cancer to treat per patient as it affects our most important organ. However, there is little known about brain tumours and only a small portion of cancer funding is allocated to brain tumours. Thankfully, there are weeks such as this International Brain Tumour Awareness Week to help raise the profile of this illness and to start the discussion.
Today that is my aim: to help start a discussion about brain tumours in the hope that one day we will know more about their causes. In addition, I hope to start a conversation about how to assist those in our community who have had this misfortune of dealing either directly or indirectly with this horrible disease. I speak on behalf of Mr Francis today when I state that he would have been lost without the understanding, compassion and commitment of a small group of volunteers who have also found themselves in similar circumstances. Just as we associate the pink ribbon with breast cancer, I encourage everyone to wear a hat for brain tumour awareness between now and 1 November.