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Benefit Night 17 Sept 2010

This was read to friends present at the Benefit event. It explains a great deal, I hope.

Friends –

I have always believed that what couldn’t be said in a 3 minute speech should be written down and sent to people instead, so they can choose to ignore it if they want to. So this is guaranteed to take less than 3 minutes of what I hope is a time of fun and music and good company for you.

Firstly, I want to make an apology to you all, for getting the wrong sort of cancer. If I’d been more discriminating about it I would have got the cancer that would have saved us all a lot of bother – the one that is treated by exactly the same drug I am using, but listed for that form of cancer for heavy government subsidy. If I’d managed that better, it would have cost me $33 per month, but because I foolishly went for a tumour in the wrong place in my body, the cost is $5800 per month instead.

That’s why you are all here tonight. There are nearly always upsides to every event in human history – some of them hard to find, admittedly. For me the upside to this one is to show me how much my friends care about me and are willing to support me in every way. I never expected to be the target for such an appeal, but then who does? Appeals are always for other people, not for me. The phone rings. It’s a worthy cause, and I dig out my credit card because everyone needs to help, and it’s a very simple way to do so. Impersonal, yes. But suddenly now, it’s not. It gets very personal, and quite eerie.

So here you are, and thanks to our dear friends Wendy and Laura Cannon, and other special people who have come onside to organise this function, you are giving me a chance at an extended period of good quality of life. I believed I had no way to attempt this because of the prohibitive cost for ongoing treatment – cost that would have a legacy of financial hardship for my family. What you are helping with is to open the possibility for this extended treatment.

Tracey had been researching this option for the whole year – in fact, she researched day and night every possible option - but I wanted to try all the conventional financially manageable approaches first. But the oncologist told us two weeks ago that all the treatments that have kept me alive for the past nine months were failing. We were aware of that before he said it. So we decided, no matter what, to attempt this one last experiment with a drug that has had good results in extending life – and more importantly, extending quality of life. This is not a cure. There is no known cure for this condition. But it leaves doors open that would otherwise be closed.

So here you are.

Tracey and Christian and I can only thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being here for us. I know others were heavily involved in this plot to organise this function and even with my limited brain I could easily name some of them. But I won’t because I would hate to leave someone out who should have been acknowledged as well.

We would love to be there with you but this week I have just taken the first hit of Avastin along with regular chemotherapy, and my immune system is way too far down for me to be in the company of all my friends, physically. I hope you understand this – especially as Tracey is to undergo surgery herself in a few days -  and any infection, even a mild head cold that she might pick up from venturing into company of friends -  could have bad consequences for both of us. So we can only be there in spirit.

I know that for the organisers this would have been far more complicated to do than would have seemed likely and once again I thank you specially. You know who you are. So, probably, do we. And heartfelt thanks to everyone else who has contributed in any way towards giving me this chance. And thanks as well to the Armidale Club for making these facilities freely available to hold this function.

Lastly, I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank my beloved wife, Tracey, for everything she has done since 3 December last year to make this journey not only tolerable but often a hugely fulfilling experience for me. I am the only one who knows exactly what she’s done. Others who have been, or are, loving carers for seriously ill people will have a good idea. But without her, I could not possibly have survived to this point. I have no doubt about that.

Denis Wright