‘You have cancer’. Those are three words none of us want to hear. But for tens of thousands of people across Wales, they are words that are sadly uttered all too often.
Another phrase that is uttered all too often by the Welsh Government is that every patient who receives a cancer diagnosis should receive a timely treatment path. The stated Welsh target is that 75 per cent of all patients diagnosed with cancer should begin treatment within 62 days.
It seems like a reasonable goal. After all, the reality is that the longer it takes for treatment to begin, the more adverse will be the outcome. Time is literally of the essence.
But the fact is that no health board in Wales has ever met that target.
Not a single one. None. Ever.
And the reality too is that cancer treatment seems like a life-and-death lottery. Where you live can affect your chance of timely treatment — and not within that much-vaunted Welsh Government target.
The Welsh Government, like every patient or relative of the sick and infirm, is fully aware that our National Health Service is creaking at the seams. To that end, Labour have allotted another £750 million for the NHS in its recent budget.
But with so much pressure on every aspect of our NHS, cancer treatment facilities will be fighting it out for funding with every other under-financed and over-stretched discipline.
Quite frankly, given the appalling level of services, it is simply amazing how our doctors, nurses, care and support staff continued to be dedicated and remain unsung heroes of a broken system not of their making. They deserve medals for turning into work daily in wards and departments that have been deprived of proper resources for too long.
It is too easy for this media outlet to bang the drum and say the system is broken.
But it seems as if the political masters who struggle to find funds for the NHS are running short of ideas.
Specialised care centres seem to be the way forward. One or two in west Wales specialising in cancer treatment options might be one option. Properly funded. Properly staffed. With new technologies and treatment options.
Yes, that will take money. But also foresight and determination too. Isn’t it time we had a proper debate about our NHS and how it delivers the best value for money for all? And let’s keep the politics out of it.