The moment Bob Turner finds out how serious his cancer is from GP Paul Cotton.
The moment Bob Turner finds out how serious his cancer is from GP Paul Cotton. Alistair Brightman

Cancer test 7 months too late

TODAY Bob Turner is in Hervey Bay Hospital waiting to have a malignant cancer cut from his bowel tomorrow.

Seven months ago his Maryborough doctor wrote to, pleaded with our health service for his patient to have a colonoscopy because his own medical tests showed Mr Turner had cancer.

Tomorrow’s operation will be too late.

Mr Turner’s latest local health system diagnosis shows it’s most likely he has a secondary cancer in his liver – something his doctor signaled to the authorities more than seven weeks ago.

Liver cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the world. A deadly cancer, liver cancer will kill almost all patients who have it within a year.

“This is a great government shame. This is not just about Bob, my courageous patient of 10 years who has never once said ‘poor bugger me’ but always argued for others to be treated better by our system,” Dr Paul Cotton said on Saturday.

“This is a tragedy in itself for Bob but this is absolutely about a dysfunctional, unco-ordinated system and in this case it is about a system bordering on negligence.“This has to stop now.

“Patients are dying needlessly.”

Mr Turner did not know until Saturday that his local hospital tests showed what Dr Cotton had signaled in writing so many weeks earlier. That he had a secondary cancer in his liver.

“I need to go outside now and talk with my wife Louise. She’s somewhere around outside,” he said a tad sadly.

“She’ll be a bit upset.

“But I just want to put on the record I chose to speak out to the Chronicle in the first place because I want to stop what’s happened to me happening to younger people who still have a life ahead of them.

“I don’t want to criticise the staff at our hospitals. They try so hard. I just want this to get better all round.”

On October 30 Mr Turner became the face of the Chronicle’s Stop the Bleeding campaign to fix the health crisis on the Fraser Coast.

Then, he and Dr Cotton spoke of his six-plus months of waiting to get a colonoscopy – as little as a 15-minute procedure.

The Chronicle’s publicity resulted in shooting Mr Turner up the waiting list and on November 6 he got his procedure.

It showed a polyp and pretty much nothing else, Hervey Bay Hospital reported.

Mr Turner was given the all clear.

He was discharged but a few days later he collapsed in agony and presented to the emergency department at Maryborough.

He was admitted to Hervey Bay Hospital where he was diagnosed with constipation and given laxatives.

Finally he got another colonoscopy and this time they found the cancer in his bowel.

Next they found probable liver cancer – some seven weeks after Dr Cotton had done a scan on his patient and signaled Mr Turner probably did have a secondary cancer.

Since October 5 Mr Turner has variously presented at Maryborough Hospital in obvious distress and been diagnosed with “acute coronary syndrome”, “asthma acute” and “acute exacerbation of coad” – that means lung disease.

“They just kept missing it in spite of all the paper work I’d sent them over the months,” Dr Cotton said.

“For Bob it’s been error after error after error – and yes, I believe he may have had a better chance of survival had the health service acted when we first asked for that colonoscopy.”

“I’m a positive man,” Mr Turner said. “I’ll just take it one day at a time now.”

‘This is a tragedy in itself for Bob but this is absolutely about a dysfunctional, unco-ordinated system and in this case it is about a system bordering on negligence’



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