Doctor shares exciting future for city’s medical services
AS a medical oncologist, or cancer care specialist, Dr Florian Honeyball says the response he receives to his chosen occupation is almost universally positive.
The Dubbo community is particularly appreciative of his services.
“Everyone is very appreciative and almost surprised that I chose to come here as a specialist and live here,” he said after moving to the western plains from Sydney.
As well as his oncology work, Dr Honeyball assists with general medicine work in the wards at Dubbo Health Service.
“I also have a clinical lecturer position at the University of Sydney School of Rural Health and go on outreach to Mudgee, Coonabarabran, Walgett and Cobar.
“Something I did not feel working in the city was the sense of community that a town like Dubbo gives to you when you live here.”
Most of Dr Honeyball’s daily work life involves discussions with people living with cancer and their families about treatments, prognosis, symptoms and prevention. Something most people don’t realise is that he doesn’t perform surgery and that there are almost 500 types of chemotherapy used.
“There is a fair amount of paperwork,” he admits of his role, “but also lots of opportunity to advocate for better health, inform government and create policy – like our remote video assisted chemotherapy model – to help smaller remote communities get access to cancer treatments.”
With the cancer unit serving an area the size of Great Britain, Dr Honeyball said it’s a massive undertaking underpinned by mortality.
“Talking about death and dying with people living with cancer is always tough, and it doesn’t get any easier with experience.
“The tyranny of distance is also difficult but not impossible to overcome – I hate it when I get told that treatment is too far away, that is something that drives me to innovate for the region.”
With the $35m Western Cancer Centre set to add to the region’s medical services, Dr Honeyball said the development will be the Central West’s most comprehensive cancer care facility, including a new 16 chair chemotherapy facility, radiotherapy machines, PET scanner, wellness centre, clinical trials unit, and the hub for Western NSW’S remote video-assisted chemotherapy unit.
It’s a great leap forward for this caring professional who fell into oncology almost accidentally.
“I was placed in an oncology term during internship the first year after medical school, and I loved the communication and science behind cancer medicine,” he said.
He spent 14 years training which included a medical degree then basic specialty training in adult medicine, then sub-specialty training in Medical Oncology.
“It’s a hard slog, but worth it!” he said.
Dr Honeyball has now been a fully qualified specialist for five years and counts Professor Peter Grimison from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Doctors Colin Mcclintock and Jeniffer Fiore-chapman as his mentors.
“Professor Peter Grimison looked after Dubbo’s cancer centre for almost a decade before me and helped me immensely through my training and when I was starting up out here as Dubbo’s first resident oncologist. Drs Mcclintock and Fiore-chapman are also amazing guides and leaders as fellow rural specialists in Dubbo.”
After moving to Dubbo with his wife Kate, who is also a doctor, the couple hasn’t looked back.
“We wanted a better lifestyle for ourselves and the move to Dubbo has been really good for our quality of life!”
Dr Honeyball said there are opportunities in the district for other medical professionals who would like a change of scenery.
“We would be keen to take on anybody from just about every specialty in Dubbo,” he said.
“The town and district are very well served by a dedicated and cohesive group of GPS and specialists but there is room for growth across the board, not just in medicine but in fields like nursing, social work, psychology and administration.
“There will be employment opportunities for doctors, nurses, allied health and administrative staff as the Western Cancer Centre and other hospital developments are commissioned and opened over the next 18-24 months.”
Dr Florian Honeyball’s role as a Dubbo-based cancer care specialist gives him “lots of opportunity” to advocate for better health, inform government and create policy. PHOTO: DUBBO PHOTO NEWS/EMY LOU