The Leukaemia Foundation’s WORLD’S GREATEST SHAVE is on again in March 2016, with the agricultural sector being the major supporting industry.
WAFarmers are leading the way in driving this important event, and encourage everyone to get involved in this great initiative. Your support will help our rural and regional families benefit from free accommodation, transport, emotional and practical support services while undergoing treatment in Perth.
Although there is extensive research on the health disadvantage for rural and remote Australians diagnosed with blood cancer, as yet, there is little information on the specific problems for rural farmers and property owners who have to relocate for specialist haematology care.
Rural farmers and property owners who have been diagnosed with leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma or a related blood disorder in regional areas experience the greatest difficulty in accessing healthcare. This is primarily due to the concentration of haematological treatment centres in major cities. The journey for the patient with a haematological cancer is challenging and usually includes involvement from both the private and public sectors through a maze of referral pathways. Patients require specialised care from multiple providers as well as many different types of treatment; therefore navigating this complex system becomes increasingly complicated for the regional patient and exacerbated by their isolation from treatment.
The Leukaemia Foundation accommodation for rural farmers and property owners raises the regional blood cancer patient’s access to the same level of care and support available to that of their metropolitan counterparts. Often blood cancer patients require treatment within twenty four hours and due to an increased infection rate cannot use shared housing facilities such as Ronald MacDonald House or Cancer Council.
In effect the Leukaemia Foundation accommodation offers a communal, supportive and inclusive environment for the rural farmers and property owners, creating a community of geographically displaced families on a blood cancer journey. From a platform of social inclusion and equitable service provision, the accommodation effectively closes the geographical and financial divide.
In addition to issues of distance, farmers and rural property owners who have to relocate for specialist care within regional Western Australia must deal with problems associated with the lack of opportunity to take absence from the property because of the inescapable pressure of daily farm and property responsibilities and the high cost of, or lack of opportunity to, outsource daily maintenance. Further concerns include the cost of relocation in the context of continuing drought, serious problems sustaining the travel and time away required, and the lack of choice for some but to deal with treatment alone.
A few facts about leukaemia and other blood cancers
- Although survival rates are improving, blood cancers are the third highest cause of cancer death in Australia – higher than better known cancers like breast cancer and melanomas.
- An estimated 6,000 West Australians are living with a blood cancer – 24 new diagnoses each week. The Leukaemia Foundation has had an increase of 17 per cent in referrals from regional areas over the last year.
Snapshot of rural farmers and property owners
- Rural farmers and property owners who have a blood cancer are 15 per cent less likely to have a positive outcome. For rural women this is 30 per cent.
- People living with cancer in regional and rural areas have poorer survival rates than those living in major cities, and the further from a major city patients with cancer live, the more likely they are to die within five years of diagnosis.
- An estimated 240 rural/remote West Australians are diagnosed with a blood cancer yearly.
- The Leukaemia Foundation in WA has seen an increase of seven per cent of rural farmers and property owners being diagnosed with a blood cancer. This may be due to better regional screening.
- Particular concern areas for rural farmers and property owners are (above 10 per cent norm for blood cancer) are CHS South West, CHS Great Southern and CHS Wheatbelt Region.
For more information about the Agribusiness Challenge and how you and your workplace/team can get involved, visit worldsgreatestshave.com or call 1800 500 088.