'Tireless' cancer campaigner Blair Vining has died

The Southland man who worked tirelessly to reform cancer care in New Zealand has died.

Blair Vining was 39. 

The father of two was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in October last year and given just eight weeks to live.

"Because of chronic under-resourcing in his region, he was unlikely to see a specialist before the cancer took his life," read a post on his Facebook page.

"It became his personal mission to see reform in the way cancer is treated."

In the time he had left, Blair and his wife Melissa dedicated their days to campaigning for reform in the way cancer is treated and equal care for cancer sufferers throughout New Zealand. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern extended her condolences to Blair's family.

"I can't imagine their sadness," she told Newshub on Friday.

"Although I only met Blair once, I saw the sacrifice he made to spend time advocating for others, which was just one of the things that made him special."

In July Blair and Melissa launched a petition which collected more than 140,000 signatures asking the Government for a National Cancer Agency.

Two months later, the Government revealed its decade-long action plan to treat cancer.

It included an extra $60 million to fund cancer medicines and the promise of equal care.

Canterbury Charity Hospital Trust chairperson Phil Bagshaw says his heart goes out to the Vining family at this time.

"They're just fabulous people," Bagshaw told Newshub. "If everyone in New Zealand was like them, I don't think there'd be a problem in the world."

Bagshaw said he admires Blair, and his wife, Melissa, massively.

"They've done a great deal for the whole of New Zealand," Bagshaw said.

Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker told Newshub all men should aspire to be like Blair.

"To people up and down the country, Blair Vining was an extraordinary man: turning his own tragedy into a battle to ensure better cancer care for all New Zealanders," reads a post on his Facebook page.

In his final months, Blair made huge achievements.    

He and Melissa renewed their vows and he played a game of rugby in front of a crowd of thousands.

The couple also set up the Blair Vining Sports Foundation to help local athletes.

"The fact Blair managed to tick off so many 'bucket list' items while fighting an aggressive form of bowel cancer is testament to his grit and desire to live life to the fullest, while it remained within his grasp."

A Givealittle page has been set up to provide support for Blair's wife and two daughters.

Details regarding an opportunity for the public to take part in a memorial service will be released at a later time.



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