Ashley Mackinnon at their Wilsons Creek home with his two children Rebecca Kinsella, 16, and Alec Mackinnon, 10.  
Ashley Mackinnon at their Wilsons Creek home with his two children Rebecca Kinsella, 16, and Alec Mackinnon, 10.   DAVID NIELSEN

Cancer debt hits home

A SINGLE dad has put his $650,000 home up as the prize in a competition he hopes will clear the massive debts he racked up in the failed battle to save his wife from cancer.

But then, Ashley Mackinnon has grown used to desperate measures.

After years of fighting tooth and nail to save his wife, Leah Chapman, from breast cancer, and then fighting just as hard to keep the family home as he fended off huge medical debts, Mr Mackinnon is calling it quits – but not without one final desperate step.

Appeals for Richmond MP Justine Elliot and Health Minister Nicola Roxon to step in under a Federal Government program designed to help cover overseas medical costs have ended in nothing and a last-minute bid to refinance his debt at a manageable interest rate appears to have collapsed, leaving Mr Mackinnon with only a few weeks to go before the bank steps in and takes his home.

Without enough time to sell his home in the conventional manner, Mr Mackinnon said he had decided to put it up as the prize in a competition he hoped would also add weight to his push to convince the Federal Government to start bringing advanced Cyberknife radiotherapy devices into the country.

Mr Mackinnon discovered the treatment in the US, where it is part of mainstream cancer treatment services, several years into Ms Chapman’s battle with cancer.

Even then, the device, which uses technology taken from cruise missiles to isolate and eliminate tumours, had a radical impact, removing most of a cluster of tumours that had formed in Ms Chapman’s brain. Mr Mackinnon said the treatment was effective enough and that ultimately it was poisoning from long-term chemotherapy treatments, rather than the cancer, that killed his wife.

Mr Mackinnon said he was not able to run a direct raffle for his house without jumping through a long and expensive series of regulatory hoops, so he was running a competition inviting people to put together a Cyberknife page on the social networking website, Facebook.

Entry to the competition was $100 and the author of the best and most informative Cyberknife page would get his four-bedroom home.

“I had the house on the market last year and I had a couple of nibbles, but that was it, and that took a couple of months,” he said. “I just don’t have that luxury of time.”

Mr Mackinnon said he needed to get a minimum 5000 entries in the competition to cover the medical bills, as well as moving expenses and rental bond at a new home. His children, Rebecca, 16, and Alec, 10, had volunteered to judge the entries.

If he failed to reach the 5000 mark, the entrants’ money would be refunded and the house would go to the bank.

While he loved the Mullumbimby area that had so welcomed and supported his family, Mr Mackinnon said he would likely move away once the house was gone.

About the house

BOASTING four bedrooms, two bathrooms, an inground swimming pool and spectacular rainforest views, Ashley Mackinnon’s home would be a prize for any family.

The Wilsons Creek home sits on four hectares only 6km, and a five-minute drive, from the conveniences of Mullumbimby.

The home has been also run in the past as a successful bed and breakfast and has the potential to generate an income of about $50,000 a year if it is put to that use again.

Renovated only a few years ago, the home also boasts a fantastic kitchen with a big gas cooktop and oven and plenty of storage space.

The home has been recently valued at $650,000 and would be a good buy at that price – but for the cost of a $100 competition ticket it’s a steal.

See the competition at:

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