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Why I got into politics: Dan Rosewarne's story

Like many other Kiwis around the country, I sat down to watch Andrew Little deliver his State of the Nation speech yesterday and hear his vision for a more prosperous, progressive and equal New Zealand.

One thing in Andrew's speech that resonated with me was his battle with cancer and how he sat at the kitchen table, thinking about his family, about the future and what it would hold for him.

Andrew said that, 'My battle with cancer colours everything I see, even today.' This statement prompted me to look inward and reflect on why I wanted to get into the sometimes-brutal game of politics.

I remember three years ago, being hit with a cancer ‘brick’ when the doctor sat me down and said I had leukaemia. As a 33 year old fit young man with a young family, it hit me hard. In an instant I felt I had moved from that strong father figure - the provider - to a patient who my family wanted to wrap in cotton wool.

I would lie awake at night wondering what would happen if I could no longer work fulltime. Would I have to sell the family home? Were my kids going to miss out on everyday things? No one could tell me.

Then there was the crash course into the Public Health system and ongoing appointments where you would sit in the Haematology Department waiting room wondering what your results would be. As I sat there I would look at the faces of who was in the hospital with me. You would see the despair of the daughter who was sitting with her newly diagnosed father, the comforting company of the nurse with the woman who had outlived her husband and now had no one to support her in the fight, and the young man who was contemplating how could this could happen to him.

Shortly after my diagnosis the haematologist told me that my form of leukaemia used to be a death sentence but now there is a new immunotherapy drug that switches off the signal that causes the cells to divide. Lucky for me it was fully funded through Pharmac.

This drug is not cheap. To a bean-counter in their governmental ivory tower in Wellington, funding this drug does not make sense. But to me and my family it has paid huge dividends. I can work fulltime, I get to see my kids grow up and I get to participate in society.

This brush with cancer turned my mild interest in politics into an unrelenting pursuit. I want to give back. I also think it is unacceptable for people in our country to die from treatable cancer because the government refuses them the latest medicines.

New Zealanders deserve the best treatment, they deserve compassion and they deserve a health system that puts them first.

Living with cancer gives you a new perspective. In my case, it changed me for the better. That is why I am giving it my all to win back the Waimakariri seat for Labour this year! New Zealand deserves better.

Dan Rosewarne is the Labour Party candidate for Waimakariri in the 2017 election. He has lived there for the past 12 years and is a serving soldier at Burnham military camp. Read his profile here.