Mr Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Deputy Minister and hon members, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010. The urologist who examined me suggested that I undergo a carbon implant. This was the second time that my family was confronted by cancer. My wife was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2002; through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation both of us are at present clean of cancer. [Applause.]
Both of us are fortunate that our cancer could be cured; however millions of others are not so fortunate. Like other diseases, cancer does not only affect a specific individual, but a wide spectrum, parents, siblings and friends. The following views are my own and do not reflect that of the DA or the DA caucus in Parliament.
It is my considered opinion that only medication with a sound scientific base and which is approved by the Medical Council should be administered to cancer patients. We should put more resources into scientifically testing alternative remedies. An individual has two milestones - birth and death. Today, cancer is responsible for the death of millions of people. My considered opinion is that an individual should be allowed to die with dignity. It is the civic duty of society to alleviate pain as far as possible.
A number of NGO's such as the Hospice and other religious and civic organisations provide counselling for terminal cancer patients and after their deaths to their bereaved once they have passed away. This is highly commendable. Alternative medication regarding the treatment of cancer is widespread. However, what is of concern is that a number of alternative medical practitioners charge exorbitant fees, and in some cases create false expectations. The claim that a 100% recovery rate, provided that the cancer patient follow the proper procedures, is often mentioned.
A public representative has a public profile. When word gets around that you have had cancer members of society, in some cases, approach and ask for advice as to whether they should follow an alternative approach if they are diagnosed with terminal cancer. My advice to cancer patients is to decide for themselves in conjunction with their general practitioner and the immediate family.
I can recall an occasion where a patient was so desperate that she persuaded her family to borrow money, which put them in debt, in order to extend her life for a few months, with unbearable pain. The question one has to ask oneself is, is it really worth it to undergo extensive medical care if your chances of recovery from cancer are slim? It is my considered opinion that it is unethical to administer any nonproven medical treatment not approved by the medical council to cancer patients.
To conclude, the general public should know that to be informed that you have cancer is not the end of the world. Get proper guidance and know that cancer can be cured if it is diagnosed at an early stage. Allow me to quote my general practitioner, "Always listen to your body. If it tells you that there is something wrong, then take the immediate proactive steps".
This is my final speech. It was a privilege to have been a member of this august House for more than 16 years. Allow me to thank the Speaker in absentia for his impartiality. Comparisons are odious but our present Speakers are amongst the best. I have made many friends during my tenure as a Member of Parliament. Also allow me to thank the following Chairpersons of committees which I served in: Hon Barbara Hogan, hon Nhlanhla Nene, hon Ben Martins - who is also here today, hon Yunus Kariem, hon Themba Godi and Mrs Coleman of the Economics Committee. Allow me to send a special thank you to my colleague, Dion George, who served with me in the Public Accounts Committee and all the officials who enabled me to perform my role as a parliamentarian. I thank you. [Applause.]