COUCH is an Action Group that was formed by Charles and Pip Woodward at a public meeting they organised on 4th September, 2006. This meeting was called after cancer sufferer, Liz Plummer highlighted in an interview with the Cairns Post newspaper the inadequate oncology services available in Cairns. The lack of these services cause unnecessary pain and suffering by having to travel to Townsville or Brisbane for treatment.
Alarming statistics have revealed that people with cancer in regional areas are 35% more likely to die within 5 years of diagnosis than patients in larger cities, and mortality rates increase the further away the patients live. For some cancers, remote patients are up to 300% more likely to die within 5 years of diagnosis.
This has been the sole aim and objective of COUCH – to ensure that Cairns has radiation oncology facilities. With these services, sufferers of cancer can be treated here in Cairns, rather than suffer through journeys to Brisbane and Townsville for treatment, experience extended periods away from loved ones and bear the burden of costs of accessing this necessary and life saving treatment.
Since COUCH was formed in 2006, the groundswell of public support has been overwhelming. With Liz Plummer as the passionate crusader and an equally fervent board of directors, COUCH has been at the forefront of bringing this vital issue to the attention of politicians and key health decision makers. To date COUCH and the City of Cairns has raised in excess of $600,000 to contribute to cancer care facilities in Cairns.
In 2009 COUCH achieved it’s primary objective with the Premier Anna Bligh announcing that Cairns would receive radiation oncology services by 2010. This three year battle has seen cancer care facilities for Cairns fast tracked by no less than 5 years.
However, COUCH is still not finished. In recognition of the fact that radiation treatment is just one step in improving the prognosis of cancer sufferers , COUCH now aims to bring about a complete health and wellbeing centre to further enhance the likelihood that people will beat and survive this insidious condition.
COUCH is also committed to improving health care services in general for Cairns residents.