One Christmas wish we all share

One Christmas wish we all share

Illuminate newsletter index page, December 2018
December 2018


Kathy holding a photo of her late husband George.

We all want more time with the people we love.

George had just turned 60 when he was suddenly diagnosed with cancer of the gall bladder.

For someone so fit and healthy, being diagnosed with a cancer of the digestive system was a shock.

George’s wife Kathy said, “George was very particular about food and fitness. You know, doing those super healthy things that you think are going to be your life insurance for longevity.”

Vitally important research

Of course, George isn’t alone. It is estimated that 28,900 new cases of digestive-tract cancers will be diagnosed in Australia this year. With such disturbing statistics, our dedicated scientists here at the Institute are determined to understand the causes of disease in order to improve treatment options for patients.

Dr Tracy Putoczki and her team have started to look at how cancers of the digestive system advance and how they might be able to block this at the molecular level. The researchers are monitoring existing treatments as well as trialling more effective approaches.

This research is vitally important because in 2018 alone, around 13,800 people will die from a digestive-tract cancer, with men more likely to die from these cancers than women.

Gone too soon

“George did not talk a lot about the fact that he wasn’t going to survive. He used to say that this happened 10 years too soon. He was trying to buy time for the research to catch up,” said Kathy.

So even though he had little chance of surviving five years, George still underwent chemo and radiotherapy. He participated in clinical trials. He and Kathy even went overseas and spoke to specialists. George knew advancements were being made and he just had to somehow stay alive long enough. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, and Kathy lost her lifelong friend and husband.

Kathy hopes that other people won’t have the same struggles that they had and now volunteers her time as a ‘research buddy’ at the Institute. She believes that supporting research at the Institute will help families like hers have better outcomes.

Read more about our research buddy program or support Institute research.

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