An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IF YOU WERE TO VISIT the cancer clinic at Royal Inland Hospital you’d see several patients sitting in the outer room, perhaps having a cookie or reading while they wait.
The clinic receives unanimously grateful reviews from patients for the caring, professional staff, and it’s hard to imagine Kamloops without it. But it has severe limitations — anyone needing radiation must drive to the clinic in Kelowna.
And, oncologists are hard to find for the Kamloops clinic because they prefer to work in bigger, better equipped centres. The Freemasons Cancer Car provides a wonderful service with volunteer drivers ferrying patients between Kamloops and Kelowna for their radiation treatments but it’s currently suspended due to the pandemic.
Though they’re glad to have access to radiation, forcing patients to make a three-hour trip to the Okanagan — sometimes daily for weeks at a time — borders on inhumane.
In 1991, the NDP’s Mike Harcourt promised Kamloops it would get a full-scale clinic. With prospects of it going to Kelowna instead, local residents mounted a concerted lobby, signing petitions and sending delegations to Victoria. A local paper even published a special supplement on it.
But Harcourt double-crossed us, giving the clinic to Kelowna instead after he was safely elected.
Now, we’re being promised a full cancer clinic again. In fact, both the NDP and the Liberals are making that pledge if we elect them. Seems like we can’t lose with both major parties on board, but excuse us if we’re skeptical.
John Horgan makes his promise as part of a 10-year plan, while Andrew Wilkinson commits several million to installing the necessary equipment to upgrade the clinic.
Such promises are easy to make and easy to postpone or forget. Will it be different this time, or is the same old political talk with no action?
We’ll believe this new cancer centre when we see it.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.