Elizabeth Chesterman, Chief Executive of the Cancer Society’s Canterbury-West Coast Division, is proud of the way her team reacted in the aftermath of the deadly earthquake of February 22nd 2011.
“After the quake struck it was our job to evacuate all our guests from our patient accommodation, Davidson House, on Cambridge Terrace, which was at full capacity at the time. Luckily our Christchurch support centre was located in the adjacent building so we were able to quickly get to work,” Chesterman says.
Many of the patients who were staying in the accommodation were distressed to learn that the life-saving cancer treatment they had come to Christchurch to receive would now be put on hold and that they would need to travel back to their home towns.
“Davidson House and the adjoining family units suffered serious structural damage and some of the building’s doors were jammed shut so we had to use a crowbar to get them open and get people out,” Chesterman recalls.
With Davidson House and the Christchurch support centre now red-zoned, Daffodil House in Papanui Road provided a base for local Cancer Society staff to work from in the months after the earthquake. Daffodil House, a former motel complex, had been purchased by the charity in 2009 to cater for the growing demand from out of town cancer patients for a place to stay in Christchurch while receiving treatment.
The charity subsequently purchased Daffodil Lodge, a former motel in Riccarton Road, as temporary replacement patient accommodation, and currently leases premises at 97 Fitzgerald Ave to deliver its services to the Christchurch community.
“Ten years after our buildings were destroyed we are now finally in a position to commence construction of a new patient accomodation facility and cancer support centre at 74 Langdons Road in Papanui, costing in excess of $20 million,” Chesterman says.
The build project is being funded by insurance monies received, a fundraising campaign and $6.5 million from the New Zealand Government’s Shovel Ready Project Initiative Fund.
“Our new accomodation facilities will consist of 50 bedrooms of varying configurations to provide a home away from home for people from around the South Island, and even as far afield as the Chatham Islands, who need to come to Christchurch Hospital for cancer treatment and stay for up to six weeks at a time,” Chesterman says.
“We are excited that our new site will offer our guests easy access to a wide range of amenities including shops, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, a library and the nearby facilities at the Graham Condon Recreation and Sport Centre, such as the swimming pool.”
“Cancer doesn’t stop because of earthquakes, Covid-19 or any other event, and nor have we. In the past 10 years we have helped approximately 20,000 people with cancer and in the next 10 years, the demand for our services is predicted to increase even further,” Chesterman says.
The Cancer Society will require additional funding to ensure the surrounding landscaping and interior of the complex provides the most comfortable and pleasant environment possible for cancer patients from across the South Island and our local community.
To express interest in providing sponsorship on this exciting and worthy project, please contact Janice Porter-Hoare, Fundraising and Events Manager, on 021 198 5392. For general enquiries regarding the project, please contact Liz Chesterman, Chief Executive, on 027 226 0322.