“I AM in so much agony there are times I just sit here in tears.”
Phil Nissen is dying, wracked with bowel cancer. He was diagnosed in May and without chemotherapy will be dead in nine months. With treatment he may get up to two years.
The 61-year-old Spearwood man was, until this week, desperate to find somewhere affordable to live: Receiving $600 a fortnight from Centrelink his rent is $720. He’s been hocking appliances to make up the difference and to buy food.
The WA housing department had told him there was nothing it could do, slotting him in somewhere amidst its 21,000-name priority list.
Willagee Labor MP Peter Tinley took up the cudgels on Mr Nissen’s behalf and contacted the Herald.
“It’s pretty grim,” he said.
“This guy has worked his whole life and it’s not like he’s a serial user of welfare, so now is not the time to deny him some security.”
The Herald called the office of WA housing minister Bill Marmion Thursday morning and was told there was no house for Mr Nissen. Forty-five minutes later we received a call back, with a very cheerful staffer telling us a place had been found, a two-bedroom home in the Fremantle area.
Mr Nissen visits Fremantle Hospital three times a week and is so sick he can’t drive, so needed somewhere close. Hopefully this place fits the bill.
“If my temperature gets to 38 I’ve got to get myself to emergency,” he said.
”If there is blood in my bowels I’ve got to go to emergency straight away; if my bowels get inflamed, straight away, if I get feverish, straight away, if I get any lower than 57 kilos, bang, I’ve got to get my arse in there.”
He says he sits up at night unable to sleep with the pain.
“I go to the toilet 30 times a day,” he sighs.
“I am in so much agony there are times I just sit here in tears.”
by BRENDAN FOSTER