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Grand gesture: anonymous donation fast-tracks cancer trials

SAVING LIVES: Cancer Care Western NSW fundraising committee chair Jan Savage, oncologist Dr Rob Zielinski and Orange mayor John Davis at yesterday’s announcement. Photo JUDE KEOGH 0814carewest4THERE were cheers and tears at Orange hospital yesterday when it was announced cancer trials in Orange would be fast-tracked, following an anonymous donation of $100,000 and a grant of $150,000 from Cancer Care Western NSW.
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The extra funding means more than 70 patients can be placed in trials 18 months ahead of the scheduled trial start date.

Dr Rob Zielinski, who is leading the new cancer trials at the hospital, says he feels humbled by the generous financial support.

“For every $10,000 we receive it means another four patients can be put into trials,” he said.

Dr Zielinski said the first major trial Orange had secured would start towards the end of the year, far ahead of schedule.

“We will use new immunotherapy drugs for stage four incurable cancer patients,” he said.

Making the surprise announcement yesterday while handing over another cheque for $150,000 from Cancer Care Western NSW, fundraising chair Jan Savage said the anonymous $100,000 donation came as a complete shock.

“This person is just incredibly charitable and this is a generous gesture by someone who is full of humanity,” she said.

“This person really cares about the people who come into this hospital to have their treatment and they hope that by providing this income of $100,000 they will be able to see the cancer trials expand here at the hospital and services continue to grow,” she said.

Among those at the announcement, were cancer survivors who were put on a limited trial last year when seed funding was provided.

Both were diagnosed with incurable cancer.

“The simple fact is I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Rob [Dr Zelinski] putting me on the trial,” Don Wheeler said.

Fellow patient Stephen Jones, who has also had an improved outcome from being on a trial, said he was encouraged to take part.

“Dr Zelinski really wanted me to be part of it and I owe it all to him,” he said.

Before being placed on an Orange-based trial Mr Wheeler had travelled 37,000 kilometres to access cancer treatment in Sydney.

Orange mayor John Davis, who is also the Cancer Care Western NSW patron, says Orange’s fundraising success for the cancer trials in such a short period of time builds on the community’s previous generosity to raise funds to build the Western Care Lodge accommodation service.

“Our challenge now is how far we can keep going with this,” he said.

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