Cancer care petition back on track to reach goal

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Blair Vining with his family, from left, daughter Lilly, wife Missy, and daughter Della-May. A foundation has been setup in Vining's name.

EACH second of each day is precious for Blair Vining, which is why when his last-wish petition for better cancer care appeared to stop working last weekend, there was pressure to get it running again.

Last October, Mr Vining was given eight weeks to live after having been diagnosed with terminal stage four bowel cancer.

When faced with the information he would have to wait six to eight weeks to begin treatment at Southland Hospital, the family decided to go privately.

Melissa Vining, Blair’s wife, said, “we thought Blair would die waiting… the system itself is so under-resourced.”

The petition was started in the hope of creating change, and is the last item on Mr Vining’s bucket list. The goal is to reach 300,000 signatures, 10% of New Zealand’s voting population, by June 28 when it would be presented at a “Final Farewell” to MPs Michael Woodhouse and Hamish Walker.

“He wanted to be here to see the petition finished, so that’s why we’re running it in such a short time,” Mrs Vining said.

Last Saturday, the Vining family were made aware on social media the signature counter on the parliament website had stopped counting.

The Vining family told Mr Woodhouse and Mr Walker of the issue and r Walker said the problem was resolved with a few phone calls, and a little pressure, in a couple of hours.

“It’s an incredibly important petition so every second it was down wasn’t acceptable for me,” Mr Walker said.

“Michael Woodhouse and I, we were putting the pressure on them.”

The petition was created with the official aim, “that the House of Representatives create a national cancer agency to address New Zealand’s cancer death rates, with responsibility for oversight of prevention, early detection, treatment, and survivorship, which should be well-funded and free from political interference, and should benchmark outcomes and report to the public”.

The fact so many people had alerted them of the issue was positive for the family – “it’s a real comfort to have so much support when facing such a difficult situation,”Ms Vining said.

Mr Walker was not given a reason for the issue but Ms Vining was told no signatures were lost and only the display had stopped working correctly.

The petition, as of Tuesday afternoon, had more than 22,400 signatures.

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