Victorian upper house MP Fiona Patten has revealed she has been diagnosed with cancer and is set to undergo surgery to have one of her kidneys removed in the coming weeks.
The leader of the Reason Party made the announcement on Tuesday night saying she would be forced to spend some of her election campaign in a hospital bed.
Despite the dire news, Ms Patten said the prognosis was “good” and while the timing was unfortunate with the upcoming Victorian election she was positive about a full recovery.
“With an election just around the corner, the timing of this unfortunate but any cancer diagnosis is never timely,” she said.
“My prognosis is good; the belief is that the disease has not spread and that I should make a quick and full recovery.
“The surgery will interrupt my election campaign a little and no doubt I will be campaigning for some of that time from a hospital bed. But we have learned a lot over COVID and I imagine I will be back on Zoom with a vengeance while I am not allowed out on the hustings.”
Ms Patten who represents the Northern Metropolitan Region in the Victorian Legislative Council said she wanted the announcement of her diagnosis to encourage others in similar situations to speak openly about their health.
“Many people stay silent upon a cancer diagnosis and are fearful of telling people because they will be judged or pitied,” she said.
“I want people to be able to talk about their health, be that physical or mental. I hope that by being public and transparent it might help others do the same.”
The 58-year-old is the leader of the Reason Party, formerly the Australian Sex Party, and was first elected in 2014 and has been central in achieving reforms in voluntary assisted dying laws and abortion.
Ms Patten was also well known for getting the Labor Government to introduce safe access zones around abortion clinics to keep pro-life protestors at bay.
The Labor Government has relied on Ms Patten, the Greens and other members of the crossbench to pass their legislation in the upper house.
The crossbencher has said she hopes to use her experience with cancer and the health system to help others who are unable to access the best support and health care.
“So many of us are touched by cancer these days – as patients, friends, relatives, carers, and health and medical staff. I have wonderful support medically and personally and realise how lucky I am in this respect,” she said.
“Many people with a cancer diagnosis cannot afford private health insurance or the best medical care. Some have limited or no personal support at all. I hope to use the experience to help others in a similar situation.”