A dream that took seven years of hard work, determination, collaboration and community spirit has been realised.
On Saturday the South West Regional Cancer Centre, on the corner of Worland Grove and Ryot Street, will be officially opened.
It’s the long-held dream of Warrnambool woman Vicki Jellie, who saw the need for a state-of-the-art facility for cancer patients in south-west Victoria and south-east South Australia, after losing her husband, Peter.
Mr Jellie died from oesophageal cancer on September 15, 2008.
With no radiation services in Warrnambool, Mr Jellie had treatment in Melbourne, spending precious time away from his family, home, work and his support network.
Ms Jellie said Peter’s Project’s formation was driven by the difficulties regional people faced in accessing cancer treatment facilities.
Peter’s Project, named in her husband’s memory, wasn’t about her family but “all the Peters” who were facing their own cancer battles.
After successfully lobbying local, state and federal governments, Peter’s Project officially began a fundraising campaign.
“We could never have imagined when we set out over seven and-a-half years ago to bring radiotherapy to the south-west, that we would now be getting ready to celebrate and realise our dream,” Ms Jellie said.
Ms Jellie said Peter’s Project had transitioned from an advocacy group, convened in 2009, seeking improved treatment services to a philanthropic foundation which would continue to support regional cancer services.
Today, Ms Jellie refers to the building as ‘your cancer centre’ in recognition of the community’s integral role fundraising the initial $5million needed to get the project off the ground, and its ongoing support.
It was only once the money was raised that the state government committed $15 million in 2013 and the federal government $10 million.
“It’s wonderful. It’s just so amazing for everyone because everyone has played a part in it. It’s just affected everyone everywhere.
“It’s been all these things that people are so excited about because it’s theirs. You can drive past (the centre) and see where your dollar went because it stayed here.”
Ms Jellie also thanked the ‘brave ones’ who shared their story during the campaign, but didn’t survive the battle.
A plaque to be unveiled by Ms Jellie on Saturday states: “This centre is dedicated to a community and its leaders who saw a brighter future and worked together with extraordinary generosity to realise their dream.”
Epworth Healthcare will manage the centre and its radiotherapy services on behalf of the state of Victoria. South West Healthcare provides the chemotherapy services and South West Oncology delivers patient care and cancer services. The Peter’s Project Community Support Centre is a non-clinical space for families, providing cooking and computer facilities and support services.
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