Family struggles fuel CT's passion

FAMILY MAN: Member for Flynn Chris Trevor with his beloved family in his home town of Gladstone.
FAMILY MAN: Member for Flynn Chris Trevor with his beloved family in his home town of Gladstone. Picture: The Observer

CHRIS Trevor was a strapping 17-year-old teenager, when, within days of being struck down by meningitis, a priest was at his hospital bedside delivering last rites.

In a speech to Federal Parliament this month, Mr Trevor told how his passion for the delivery of quality healthcare to Flynn stemmed from deeply personal family struggles.

He revealed his wife Colleen has an incurable bowel disease, while his 18-year-old son Rhys will die without daily medication.

“I was speaking from the heart (in Parliament),” says the Clermont-born father of five who was in Emerald this week for the wedding of his second-eldest son, Guy.

“I'm a very private person but I felt compelled to tell my story to send a message to politicians that health is a major issue for me, my community, and for all Australians.”

In 2003, Rhys Trevor suffered a severe head trauma when he was accidentally struck by a golf club.

Surgeons inserted titanium plates to reconstruct his skull.

Four years ago, he was diagnosed with Addison's Disease, a rare disorder which affects 1 in 100,000 people.

“His adrenaline glands are destroyed, which means he has no adrenaline in his body and Rhys requires daily medication – without it, he'll die,” says Chris.

“He has side effects from the illness, but it's hard enough growing up as an adolescent without having the added burden of a life-threatening illness.

“Yes, there are issues attached to his condition, but as a family, we deal with them.

“He's a very deep-thinking, mature young kid whose attitude to life is ‘I don't know how long I'm going to be here Dad, but I'm going to enjoy my life while I can'.

“And I love him with all my heart, and I spoil him.”

Colleen Trevor has diverticulitis, which in times of severe outbreaks requires hospitalisation and surgery to resection parts of her bowel.

“What Colleen has is treatable, but not curable,” says Chris.

“There's a lot of families who have partners, wives, husbands and children who are very sick, but you have to get on with it and we, like any family, deal with those personal issues.”

The only lingering reminder of Chris' own brush with death is a restriction of vision in his right eye that doesn't impair day to day life.

“I'm in perfect health – I don't want a rumour going around that I'm sick,” he says with a healthy dose of laughter.

“All I remember is just an incredible headache, so much so you couldn't put your feet on the ground without an enormous pain in your head.

“I was fit and active one day, and the next…”

Chris is convinced the Rudd Government health reform agenda is right for the constituents of Flynn.

He believes the current health delivery system, which people, including cancer patients, are shunted to Rockhampton, Mackay or Brisbane for treatment is “unacceptable” in all but exceptional circumstances.

And he knows that for too long, the lack of doctors and specialist services in the electorate, is a major issue.

“I understand personally the impact that failure to deliver local health services, including specialist services, has on families,” he says.

“That's why I'm pinning my hopes on Kevin Rudd's agenda, and I'll be honest, this issue is so personal to me, that if I can't assist in solving some of these problems, then I don't know what the answer is.”

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