Petition handed over at ‘final farewell’

Blair and Missy Vining at Blair's 'Final Farewell' function and dinner held at the Bill Richardson Transport World on Saturday night. Photo: Dave Loudon Photography

BLAIR Vining has handed over a 140,000-signature petition calling for a better way to help cancer sufferers in New Zealand.

It has been the 38-year-old, Winton father-of-two’s goal since being diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in October last year, when he was given eight weeks to live.

Since that day, he started a bucket list and proudly ticked off the last item at the weekend.

Mr Vining presented the petition to National MPs Michael Woodhouse and Hamish Walker at a ‘final farewell’ event attended by about 650 people at Bill Richardson Transport World in Invercargill on Saturday.

While Mr Vining said the diagnosis was devastating, he wanted to respond differently.

“It gave me the opportunity to make a change. A lot of people think just about themselves, but I honestly – I don’t know why – I thought of everyone in this situation. We just want to make it better for everyone else.”

Surrounded by his wife Melissa and daughters Lilly and Della-May, Mr Vining said the great support of family and friends drove him to launch the petition calling on the Government to fund a national cancer agency.

“I just wanted to make sure that my family, my community and country were looked after. We really need to give a push for it – because if we don’t, it will get worse.”

The petition was created with the official aim of 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”

Blair Vining (right) with Dr Chris Jackson, Medical Director for the Cancer Society of New Zealand.

Mr Walker described Mr Vining as the “most selfless man” he had met, while Mr Woodhouse said what Mr Vining had done was “a magnificent achievement”.

Both said they would do everything possible to honour his goals.

Mrs Vining, said she was proud of her husband and promised she would continue the fight.

“The thought of achieving a national cancer agency and better cancer care in New Zealand will mean his suffering and many other people’s suffering was not for nothing.”

Due to Parliament’s petition page breaking down multiple times, the deadline for signing the petition has been extended to July 7. Mr Woodhouse will present it to Parliament after that on a date yet to be set. Mr Vining described the petition handover as an “amazing experience.”

With the bucket list, which included rugby games, fundraising events, travel and a lot of other achievements, completed, Mr Vining now has one simple wish. “I just want to spend time with my beautiful girls.”

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