Cairns Organisation United for Cancer Health - better known as COUCH - is a community focused charity with a mission to improve health care services for Cairns and Far North Queensland residents diagnosed with cancer.
Established as an action group in September 2006 by founders Charles and Pip Woodward, COUCH was inspired by Cairns resident Liz Plummer and her inspiring fight for better oncology services in Far North Queensland.
The COUCH board and volunteers have been dedicated to that original vision of addressing the imbalance of services and support for people with cancer - and their families - in Far North Queensland compared to those in larger, metropolitan cities.
The lack of oncology and cancer support services has caused unnecessary pain and suffering, with Far North Queensland residents often forced to travel to Townsville or Brisbane for treatment.
From the moment COUCH was formed in 2006, the groundswell of public support has been overwhelming.
In 2009, COUCH achieved its initial objective with the Queensland Government announcing that Cairns would receive radiation oncology services by 2010. The campaigning and fundraising by COUCH resulted in cancer care facilities for Cairns being fast tracked by five years.
With radiation treatment being just one step in improving the delivery of local cancer services, COUCH set about realising the vision of Charles and Pip Woodward for a health and wellness centre to be established in Cairns.
With significant investment by the Federal Government and the remarkable generosity of local residents, businesses and charities, COUCH will open the $3 million COUCH Wellness Centre in April 2019.
With the original vision of its founders as a guide, COUCH’s mission to raise funds and advocate for better cancer services in Far North Queensland continues.
Liz Plummer Cancer Care Centre
On 27 June 2011, the Liz Plummer Cancer Care Centre welcomed its first patient for treatment.
The opening marked the completion of five years of an unrelenting campaign by COUCH to bring these services to Cairns Hospital, with hundreds of patients who would normally have to travel to Townsville and beyond for treatment now able to receive treatment and care locally.
The centre was named after Liz Plummer, who shared her cancer journey with the public and crystallised the need for radiation treatment in Cairns.
With the backing of Charles and Pip Woodwood, along with a very motivated committee of people and a wave of momentum from the community of Cairns, the Liz Plummer Cancer Care Centre demonstrates what can be achieved when a community truly believes in a concept and a cause.
COUCH and the broader community was devastated when Liz lost her fight with cancer in July 2009. The naming of the centre remains a fitting legacy for Liz and her family.
The Liz Plummer Cancer Care Centre, located at Block E at Cairns Hospital, is one of the most modern and contemporary facilities to be offered to patients anywhere in Queensland. The centre is run by Radiation Oncology Centres which has established itself as one of the first truly digital radiation oncology facilities in the world.