Blair Vining can finally put his feet up.

The terminally ill father-of-two has, for the last seven months, been driving a powerful public movement calling for a national cancer agency led by clinical experts to put an end to postcode lottery care.

This afternoon, Vining's final wish was ticked off his bucket list when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern unveiled the Government's plans to establish the agency by December 1.

"You don't get everything you wish for at Christmas but this is a real step forward into making change so this is really positive," Vining told the Herald.


Speaking to the Herald just moments after today's announcement, Vining said he could finally have a rest and look back at all they had accomplished.

"We can't wait to ring the girls and tell them the great news."

Vining said out of 10, he gave the announcement a six.

"It was disappointing the bowel screening programme won't be rolled out to all of New Zealanders still for a really long time and they won't be lowering the age," Blair's wife Melissa said.

The pair made a last-minute decision to fly up for the announcement just yesterday saying they couldn't miss it.

Blair Vining said these last few weeks had been "rough" but he hoped a change in treatment will help get him back on track.

"Day-to-day life is a bit harder than what it used to be and I can feel it in myself but still remain positive and keep helping people."

His wife Melissa said their daughters Lilly and Della-May helped him by setting goals.


The next goal is Lilly's 13th birthday which is this weekend.

Hi this is Missy; I’m typing for Blair as we head off on another adventure! So we are taking u all with us on what hopefully is the last leg of this bucket list item, hopefully tomorrow there will be an announcement of a National Strategy for Better Cancer Control & Care For NZ, lead by an independent agency, hoping it will be well funded and immediate to put an end to the suffering of many, many NZers and an end to; postcode healthcare, misdiagnosis, long waits & poor access to treatment. Hoping for more research, more prevention strategies (personally keen to see bowel screening rolled out to the whole country by Xmas & lowered to 50 like our comparable countries) and fingers crossed for better/faster access to drugs, accountability on the DHB’s who aren’t performing and lastly workforce planning to ensure there is enough medical professionals, so many are run off their feet working tirelessly now! One more sleep until the big announcement.....

Posted by Blair Vining’s Epic Journey on Saturday, 31 August 2019

Blair Vining's story:

Father-of-two Vining was told he had to wait eight weeks for an "urgent appointment" with an oncologist after being diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer.

Now, the rugby fanatic dad, coach and community hero has been told he has only months to live.

He said this year that he had been paying about $35,000 a month to extend his life while both he and his wife, Melissa, have had to stop working.

That sum includes paying for medication that was not funded, and due to a loophole in their private health insurance could not be covered, as well as travel and accommodation to get treatment three hours' drive away because it was not available in their home town, Winton.

Melissa said the saddest thing was she thought they were the exception and had somehow slipped through the cracks of the system.

"I then shared our story on social media and [we] were contacted by dozens of families going through the same experience."

She said her husband's deadly cancer couldn't have been detected earlier because he was well below the public screening age of 60.

Part of her husband's bucket list was to help change the system.

"People try to opt for help and can't access that help which is just so wrong," Melissa told the Herald.