Sod turning ceremony marks beginning of construction

CANCER CENTRE COMING TO SHEPPARTON… From left, Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor, Cr Kim O’Keeffe, Member for Northern Victoria, Wendy Lovell, GenesisCare general manager of oncology in Victoria, Shane Ryan, Federal Member for Nicholls, MP Damian Drum and GV Health director of infrastructure, Sandy Chamberlin gathered to mark the beginning of construction. Photo: Katelyn Morse.

CONSTRUCTION of the all-new, GenesisCare $11 million cancer centre on Corio Street in Shepparton was celebrated with an official sod turning ceremony on Wednesday, June 12.

The event was decorated by project advocates including, Federal Member for Nicholls, MP Damian Drum, Member for Northern Victoria, Wendy Lovell, Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor, Cr Kim O’Keeffe, GenesisCare general manager of oncology in Victoria, Shane Ryan and GV Health director of infrastructure, Sandy Chamberlin.

The occasion marks a pivotal moment in time for cancer patients in the Greater Shepparton area, as it means the city is one step closer to receiving the promised, world-class radiation therapy treatment facilities.

An emotional Wendy Lovell was clearly moved by the event, opening up about a close family member’s battle with cancer and how having local facilities at the time, could have made the experience much easier for the family and far less traumatic.

She stated, “We’ve waited a long time for this.”

Community members with cancer currently need to travel to Melbourne, Albury-Wodonga or Bendigo for radiation therapy treatment, which is delivered daily for up to seven weeks depending on the case. This distance can place a significant physical, emotional and financial strain on individuals and their families, and for some, it can discourage patients from following through with their prescribed treatment.

The development will mean $4.1 million of work for local subcontractors and Erilyan, the contractors assigned to the project, estimate the use of around 130 local subcontractors onsite throughout the course of construction.

The world-class centre will enable local patients to access radiation therapy treatment within Greater Shepparton for the first time, with capacity to treat more than 500 patients a year.

Radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy, is a highly effective weapon in the fight against cancer, contributing to more than 40 percent of all cures. The new centre will offer the latest in radiation oncology treatment technology, including Deep Inspiration Breath Hold for women with left-sided breast cancer, Stereotactic Ablative Radiation Therapy, Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy, 4D CT scans and innovative skin cancer treatments. It will also offer rapid access to radiation therapy treatment for patients in palliative care – another first for the community.

Patient treatment will be delivered using an advanced linear accelerator machine, made possible through a contribution from the Federal Government’s Radiation Oncology Health Program Grants. The grant program enables access to high-cost equipment used to deliver radiation therapy in areas of need.

When asked about the site’s progress, GenesisCare general manager of oncology in Victoria, Shane Ryan said, “Our goal is to be fully operational before Christmas; works started two weeks ago and we’re definitely on track.”

Mr Drum welcomed the news that the centre would be operational by Christmas, saying the fully integrated centre would provide seamless world-class support services for patients in the Shepparton area.

“The new centre is a wonderful community asset, which uses local contractors along the way, provides local health industry job creation, and is truly something the community can really be proud of.”

For most patients, fighting a battle with cancer could be the toughest time of their life. This major expansion of cancer services, located at 124 Corio Street, opposite Community Health @ GV Health, has the potential to transform the experience of those affected by cancer in our region.

Cr O’Keeffe added in summary, “This facility will literally change the lives of the people in our community.”