When Cheryl Campbell bought tickets in a raffle last year, she never expected to end up using the equipment she contributed to.
While Mrs Campbell knew she had a heart condition for many years, the rare pulmonary arterial hypertension was discovered quite recently when her unexplained breathlessness was investigated.
“It’s just so ironic sitting here in this lung function testing box bought through the Cardiac Challenge, because I bought raffle tickets in Dr Vincent’s fundraising for the event,” Mrs Campbell said.
“I was actually jokingly cranky with him that I didn’t win the raffle, but I won the prize in the end because I get to use the equipment,” she said.
Mrs Campbell and her respiratory specialist Dr Stephen Vincent were delighted to talk about the new equipment, as part of Heart Week celebrations from May 2-8.
The Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation, which hosts Australian Retirement Trust’s QSuper Cardiac Challenge, has contributed more than $5 million to cardiology in the Far North in the past 25 years – most of that through the fundraising bike ride.
Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Director of Respiratory Dr Stephen Vincent said he was delighted with Mrs Campbell’s progress.
“We’ve been able to diagnose and monitor her with the detailed lung function testing and she’s the first patient I’ve been able to put on a new medication that is actually turning her condition around,” Dr Vincent said.
Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a rare disorder characterised by high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs for no apparent reason.
The detailed lung function testing and hybrid bronchoscope with dedicated ultrasound system for respiratory, were two of four items bought as a result of the 2021 QSuper Cardiac Challenge, the signature event of the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation.
The respiratory equipment also means double the number of lung patients can be seen for diagnostic services.
The QSuper Cardiac Challenge fundraised $529,000 in 2021, with $275,000 of that used to buy two pieces of diagnostic equipment for lung patients in the Far North.
“The demand for lung function testing has actually increased 30% in the past 10 years due to an increase in population and greater use for the test including in cancer treatment, occupational exposure assessment, response to treatment,” Dr Vincent said.
“Because we now have this equipment, we can see double the number of patients for this service which people previously used to have to travel for. We know there is a cohort of patients who will not travel away from Cairns for further medical testing or treatment so we’re delighted to offer this close to home,” he said.
“We can now sample abnormal lymph nodes that our previous equipment simply couldn’t see.
“I’ve ridden in the Cardiac Challenge now for five years – this will be my sixth year. It’s a really amazing connection between riders, fundraising events and we clinicians. When you see everyone’s hard work result in improved equipment and improved patient outcomes, it’s an incredible gift. This equipment helps keep our department on the world stage for standards of care.
“Lung cancer in the Far North has a higher prevalence and presents at a later stage than people within the metropolitan areas due to various factors including distance, late presentation and at times due to logistical delay.  Using the endobronchial ultrasound allows Cairns Hospital’s respiratory physicians to diagnose, stage and determine which type of cancer has formed in a patient’s thorax by guiding a needle into the cancer via high resolution ultrasound guidance.  The specimen is urgently sent for testing and the type of cancer is determined which can establish an individualised treatment plan within a week, thus shortening the time between diagnosis and treatment. Lung cancer management requires adequate sampling of tissue for identification of cancer subtype and molecular studies for targeted treatment. The mediastinal lymph nodes are a common site of lung cancer to spread and the majority of this is the only site available for tissue sampling.”
Foundation CEO Gina Hogan said Mrs Campbell was a long-term supporter of the Foundation, having been one of the early board members and now is a volunteer with the Gordonvale Friends of the Foundation. Mrs Campbell also facilitated a $123,000 contribution from the Cairns Game Fishing Commemorative Association towards the second cardiac catheter laboratory project. And she had an implantable electronic device inserted by Dr Kevin Ng, not long after the electrophysiology service started.
“It’s just so ironic but also heart-warming when people who are supporters, end up using the equipment they support. No one wants to think they’ll need these services, but it’s really amazing when they can, so close to home,” Mrs Hogan said.
•    The 2021 QSuper Cardiac Challenge resulted in the purchase of a $30,000 ventilator for cardiology, a $146,000 ultrasound for paediatric cardiology, detailed lung function testing and a hybrid bronchoscope valued at $275,000 for respiratory and a $25,000 body composition scanner for endocrinology.
About the QSuper Cardiac Challenge

The QSuper Cardiac Challenge is an annual fundraising bike ride from Cairns to Cooktown, hosted by the Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation. 2022 will be the 16th time the Cardiac Challenge bike ride has been held, with almost $5 million raised for cardiac services by the Foundation, in that time. Registrations are now open for the 2022 QSuper Cardiac Challenge which will be held on September 17-22. www.cardiacchallenge.com.au
About QSuper
This is an important partnership opportunity in the QSuper team calendar. As a part of Australian Retirement Trust, QSuper looks after the retirement savings of many Queensland Health employees in the state’s Far North, and we are proud to support an initiative that helps our members working in cardiac health to provide state-of-the-art care for their patients. QSuper is a part of Australian Retirement Trust, the super fund formed through the merger of Sunsuper and QSuper on 28 February 2022.  Australian Retirement Trust is one of Australia’s largest super funds, proud to take care of over $230 billion in retirement savings for more than two million members.  For more information, please visit https://qsuper.qld.gov.au

Photo: Foundation CEO Gina Hogan, Cairns Hospital Accredited Clinical Physiologist Janine Ferns, Cheryl Campbell and Dr Stephen Vincent.