PM replies to Lilly; petition on 100,000

It has been an eventful 24 hours for Southland's Vining family, with the daughter of a sick man receiving a response from the Prime Minister on the call for better cancer care.

Diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in October last year, Blair Vining was given eight weeks to live.

After being told he would have to wait six to eight weeks to begin treatment at Southland Hospital, the family decided to pay for private healthcare.

Mr Vining's 12-year-old daughter, Lilly, wrote an open letter to Jacinda Ardern asking her to deliver on promises made before the election.

"Before you were prime minister you promised New Zealanders world-class cancer care, including a national cancer agency and $8billion into health," the letter said.

Her mum, Melissa, said yesterday morning she had received a reply from the PM.

Blair and Melissa Vining with their two daughters Lilly, 12, and Della-May, 17, have had their...
Blair and Melissa Vining with their two daughters Lilly, 12, and Della-May, 17. Photo: Supplied

"Lilly was extremely excited. She was squealing and jumping around."

She said it was a "warm and personable" letter that acknowledged the need for better healthcare, but did not make any commitments in regard to Mr Vining's petition for better cancer case, or his bucket list.

Health Minister David Clark had previously said he was aware wait times for some cancer patients were unacceptably long.

"It has been clear for many years that we can and must do better for cancer sufferers," he said.

Another milestone was reached yesterday when an estimated 100,000 signatures were counted from both the online and paper versions.

There were some issues, however: the parliamentary website petition page crashed for a third time, from early Wednesday morning until 4.30pm.

Ms Vining said they were inundated with messages from people saying they could not sign the petition, so it was decided to extend the end date by a week, to July 7.

The goal of the petition was to get 300,000 signatures - 10% of New Zealand's voting population - by the end of this week, when it would be presented to MPs Michael Woodhouse and Hamish Walker at a "final farewell".

The petition was created with the official aim of a "national cancer agency to address New Zealand's cancer death rates, with responsibility for oversight of prevention, early detection, treatment and survivorship, which should be well funded and free from political interference, and should benchmark outcomes and report to the public" be created.

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