A mother's "horrendous" experience of having to travel to Sydney for cancer treatment has tempered the launch of demolition works required before the $35 million Western Cancer Centre at Dubbo Hospital can be built.
Federal Minister for Regional Health and Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, took the occasion beyond bricks and mortar with his reference to one of many people in regional, rural and remote communities forced to leave families and friends behind in a bid to save their lives.
Sadly, too many patients choose not to leave home and subsequently die.
But cancer sufferers will not have to limit their options when the "world-class" centre's doors open to patients in about 15 months.
The federal government is spending $25 million and the state government $10 million on the facility which will house the only PET/CT scanner west of the Blue Mountains.
The centre will offer chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Member for the Dubbo electorate Dugald Saunders, Western NSW Local Health District chief executive Scott McLachlan, hospital general manager Debbie Bickerton and representatives of Lipman Pty Ltd, contracted to build the centre, joined Mr Coulton and others outside the hospital's old renal unit on Wednesday.
The vacated building on the western side of the hospital campus is making way for the centre.
"I look around and see all the people who have made this happen," Mr Coulton said after acknowledging the role of clinicians and the community in securing the facility.
"..my mother died of cancer at the age of 67 and we lived a long way from treatment.
"She travelled from Warialda to Sydney for treatment and it was horrendous.
"I would not wish that on anyone. So if this centre can help some people have a better chance of life than my mother had, than it will all be worthwhile."
Lipman's project manager Jason Todd said the initial and internal demolition work would be "soft", partly because of asbestos.
External demolition would involve a 30-tonne excavator, he said.
The project manager said the building would be down in about six weeks when the first of up to 90 workers including local contractors would clear the site and begin construction.
Mr Saunders, who helped Mr Coulton remove a panel from the old unit, said the centre would be the "pre-eminent cancer centre" in regional NSW.
Mr McLachlan says it "really will save lives" and be a "magnet for clinicians".