Last week I was privileged to have my private members bill drawn from the ballot box.
This is a completely random selection every few months of MPs' private members bills that then automatically make their way onto the floor of Parliament and potentially can make their way as legislation.
Some MPs can spend decades in Parliament and never ever have a bill drawn from the ballot box.
The crux of my bill is to help relieve the financial burden on cancer patients who require chemotherapy.
Last year an elderly man wrote to me and told me about his son, Andrew, who was 36 and had metastatic bowel cancer. He described how Pharmac would not fund his medicine and so they were using their savings and crowd sourcing the $60,000 required to buy it.
They were only just able to afford this but what was the final straw was having to pay a further $1000 a week on top of that to have his cancer medicine administered in a private facility.
The legislation says that if Pharmac will not fund your cancer medicine then it cannot be administered in a public hospital. This is wrong and this is what we need to change.
People who are in a time sensitive life and death situation with cancer and who have already paid so much for a medicine that Pharmac would not fund should be allowed to have their cancer medicine administered in a public hospital. This is what my private members bill would do. It may also apply soon to children newly diagnosed with cancer.
Many people have contacted me saying that this bill will have a life changing impact on their lives. We think there may be around 2000 people per year who would benefit and not surprisingly there is a huge cancer inequity for Maori which would also be reduced.
We appreciate the support of the Cancer Foundation, Lung Foundation, Bowel Cancer Foundation, Melanoma New Zealand, Malcolm Mullholland, Melissa Vining, oncologists and others who want to do a better job with cancer.
Cancer sufferers and myself do not buy the government's argument that this will create a two tier system where the wealthy are inappropriately treated in public hospitals.
Every health resource has a waiting time as does chemotherapy administration. The wealthy will continue to pay their way around this waiting time and go privately. We will need to take care not to create a further burden on our hard working health system which will need some new money.
We want to give people with cancer who would benefit from this bill the chance to tell their story to a select committee. To do this we need the government's help to send this bill to select committee so that we can at least have a discussion and hear their stories.
Andrew tells me he may only have a short time to live but the prospect of talking to a select committee has given him hope.
Please give Andrew and other cancer sufferers the chance to tell their story by contacting your MP and telling them to send Dr Shane Reti's bill to select committee.