Canteen’s Bandanna Week


When I was 8, my best mate died of leukemia, also aged 8. It was hard to comprehend, he had been sick for a long time and his family were very religious and somehow managed to cope. Since then another good friend died aged 20, just when life was going really well for her. Her partner who was totally devoted to her was obviously devastated and spending time with them at home and in hospital during her chemo visits was very difficult. She kept up a very brave face, but it was obvious that she was struggling with fear, dissapointment, frustration, why me, nausea, hair loss, energy loss, anguish for her partner and her family, I could keep going, but you get the picture.

New Zealand is highly regarded when it comes to cancer. When my late grandmother came to New Zealand on holiday, she had a collostomy bag, she had one kidney and had spent a year in hospital with over 50 operations. New Zealand was one of the few countries her doctors were confident about her visiting because of the reputation of care here.

We pay taxes for health care and some of it goes to research, but there are many more services that are essential, and today I have a Canteen bandanna around my neck as a tiny contribution of recognition to some of the services that Canteen facilitates.

One of the most important ones in my book is support. There is noone better to help a young cancer sufferer than someone who has been through it and uderstands what they are experiencing and going through. Noone else can really empathise.

According to a statement on Infonews there are currently 12,500 young people up to the age of 24 living with cancer or a sibling and this grows by hundreds each year.

The $4 donation I gave seems pitiful, but if 4,000,000 of us do it, it might be a different story. There are other opportunities. There are a number of bandannas on Trade Me signed by celebrities. There was supposed to be one signed by Elle McPherson, but I couldn’t find out, so I’ve put a bid on one signed by Donald Trump.

Anyway, Canteen does an awesome job and I hope they raise loads of money for this important cause. Let’s make these young people’s lives mean something and give them a lending hand.

I’m also planning one or more songs about cancer, but you’ll have to keep an eye on my Songwriting blog in the coming weeks to learn more about that.

Finally the staff in the Waitemama Health Board speak out


As a footnote on my story yesterday, in this morning’s New Zealand Herald, senior doctors have finally spoken out, to the ‘disappointment’ of the Waitemata Health Board. I’ll bet they were disappointed. The Health Board say they have been working on it as fast as they can. But didn’t they close a whole floor of the hospital because they had insufficient staff? Now they are going to open a new ward.

At least it is now out in the open and we won’t hear any more stories of “It’s not usually this bad”, because we all know it is. The sad thing is that for the next few weeks at least, the newspapers, the woman’s magazines, TV and more are going to be full of sad stories about people who died because they couldn’t get their chemo or radiation treatments in time and now their cancers are invasive. We’ll hear about elderly people who didn’t make their 50th wedding anniversary because they didn’t get satisfactory care in time. I’ll put money on it that the Auckland and especially local nwespapers are going to be full of letters to the editor and many will be followed up as sad, sad stories.

The board will say “It’s not our fault, the government wouldn’t give us enough money.” The senior doctors, registrars and nurses will all be saying, “We told you over and over again, but all you cared about was budgets and efficiency.”

I have no problem with hospitals being run as a business, with controlled budgets and business plans, but let’s never forget what they are there for.

I do have one question though, and I wish my WordPress had a poll function, but then I doubt they would answer this question. Either way, here it is. To those people who work in our public hospitals. If you need surgery or have a serious medical condition, do you go to your public hospital, or do you go private? Why?

Sadly I am confident that for the majority, I already know the answer.

Again to those of you who work as staff in the hospitals, thank you so much for staying and not going oversees where you can earn at least twice as much money and in many cases function in a technological environment where most patients get their own drugs and not someone elses, where their files about their condition and allergies are available on demand and where far fewer people needlessly lose their lives. It must be very tempting sometimes to long for single shifts and an organisation that cares as much for their patients as they for saving money.

Now let the stories begin. I don’t want to sound cynical, at least any more than I already am, but it is election year this year isn’t it? There had better be some funds coming up for Auckland hospitals because health care is going to become an election issue.