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Monday, 29 October 2012
Page: 12328


Mr DUTTON (Dickson) (21:38): Cancer is a word which causes fear and heartache for millions of Australians. Everyone in this place represents people who have suffered from cancer. Some members have direct experience of cancer, and all would have family and friends who have suffered. Cancer is one word but it is many diseases. They are all terrible but we need to understand the differences—not because one person's suffering is more important than another's, not because one person's courage is more inspiring than another's; we need to understand the differences between different cancers because in this place compassion is not enough. We need to understand the detail if we are to support the solutions that many in our community are working to. The prevention, treatment, support and cure of different cancers will sometimes overlap but often they will be very different.

Tonight I will share with you a few words about a family battling brain cancer. As you listen, I hope to highlight the massive impact on one family and then consider the scale of the problem when multiplied across many families in our nation. Think about the personal strength for Katherine Landers to take time to write about her husband, Andrew Landers. They moved to Brendale in my electorate on 1 June 2011. Her words best describe what happened next:

On 12 June 2011 at the age of 36 my husband collapsed without warning and was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. I was pregnant with our second child at the time. We now have a 7 year old daughter and a 10 month old son …

… We were just going along like any other married couple with young children and our world was thrown upside down. We have had to deal with the physical, emotional, mental and financial impact of this disease knowing that ultimately it will be terminal. (I am though hoping it won't be terminal for a long time yet and that my husband will get to see our son's first day at school). Due to the diagnosis my husband can no longer work and I have had to drop down to part-time work to meet his care needs which has meant that unfortunately we are now living on Centrelink payments. This is a situation I never imagined I would be in although I have learnt to become very resourceful with budgeting which has been a positive.

Despite personal circumstances that would leave many unable to think beyond each day, Katherine Landers wants to raise awareness and help others. Again I will let Katherine's own words convey the information she wants our nation to know:

There is currently a low level of understanding in the community about brain tumours and the enormous impact they have on individuals and their families.

One person is diagnosed with a brain tumour every 6 hours and one person dies from brain cancer every 8 hours in Australia.

Brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in people under the age of 39.

The 5 year survival rate for brain tumours is 19%.

Almost 100% of patients with brain cancer succumb eventually.

Brain cancer is the only cancer that directly affects both the body and mind.

Brain cancer carries the highest individual financial burden of all cancers with an average cost more than 5 times higher than other cancers. According to a study commissioned by the Cancer Council NSW the financial costs faced by households with a brain tumour were $149,400 which was almost 50% greater than households with the next most expensive cancer. This is due to a reduction in income and the increase in out of pocket expenses.

Brain tumour research funding is currently low in relation to the burden of the disease.

I am wearing a silver ribbon tonight, and this week is International Brain Tumour Awareness Week. I am wearing that ribbon because Katherine Landers had the courage to share her family's story so that in the future there will be fewer families that have to fight brain cancer. Let us reflect on what the Landers family are enduring. Their story matters not just because of our compassion for them but because it should steel our determination to achieve better outcomes for all brain cancer sufferers. Let us also reflect tonight on the work of the medical researchers and the clinicians who work to provide support to these families in their darkest hours. Let us make sure that, as a nation, we continue to recognise the efforts that they make to find a path to a cure and to a better prospect of life ahead for these sufferers and for families like the Landers family. Let us make sure that our country recommits itself to extra research dollars to provide support for that valuable pursuit. This is a country blessed with much natural wealth, and we must make sure that we turn that into opportunities to make life even better for Australian families.