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In the early 1990s, the Sisters of St John of God identified a critical need for a dedicated cancer centre to address the unique challenges faced by cancer patients in WA.

Recognising the fragmented nature of cancer care, they urged St John of God Health Care to prioritise the creation of a comprehensive cancer facility.

Dr Neale Fong, who was then Chief Executive Officer of St John of God Subiaco Hospital, embraced this challenge.

The team noted that cancer patients often had to navigate between various services scattered across different locations, both within and outside the hospital. Their vision was to create a centralised cancer centre where all essential services—imaging, diagnosis, pathology, endoscopy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, and complementary therapies—would be available in one location.

This vision became a reality with the opening of St John of God Subiaco Hospital’s first Cancer Centre in the Subiaco Medical Clinic in 2001-2002. This dedicated facility included the Ivy Suite (“IV” for intravenous treatment), which specialised in intravenous treatment for cancer patients.

Despite the clear need and initial success, it became evident that significant, additional financial support was required to fully realise the comprehensive cancer centre vision.

Responding to this need, the St John of God Health Care Board enlisted St John of God Foundation to spearhead a fundraising campaign. In July 2005, the Foundation launched this campaign under the leadership of campaign committee president, prominent Perth businessman and philanthropist Jack Bendat.

Thanks to the support of the community and the leadership of the campaign committee, the campaign had successfully raised $15.8 million by the time the Bendat Family Comprehensive Cancer Centre (BFCCC) officially opened on July 18, 2007. The Bendat Family Foundation played a pivotal role as the principal benefactor, contributing $5 million to the cause.

The BFCCC was a ground-breaking achievement as Australia's first private cancer clinic offering a full range of services, from inpatient surgical and chemotherapy care, to complementary therapies like massage. In addition to providing world-class treatment, the BFCCC is now also known for its dedication to innovative medical research.

Since it was first opened, the BFCCC has continued to lead the way in cancer treatments and care.

In 2019, St John of God Subiaco Hospital was the first private hospital in Australia to introduce Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT), a revolutionary treatment for breast cancer. IORT significantly reduces treatment time from several weeks of daily radiation to a single, targeted session administered during surgery.

In keeping with the history of the BFCCC, the introduction of IORT was made possible thanks to generous philanthropic donations.

The success of the BFCCC fundraising campaign, and the ongoing advancements in health care through the BFCCC, are a testament to the power of community support and philanthropy. Contributions from people like you have been instrumental in transforming cancer treatments and care for our community. Thank you for being a vital part of this journey.

Inside the Bendat Family Comprehensive Cancer Centre - 2011

Image: Bendat Family Comprehensive Cancer Centre, 2011.

With sincere thanks to St John of God Health Care History & Heritage for contributing content for this story from their archives. 

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