A grieving mother’s lifelong mission

A grieving mother’s lifelong mission

Illuminate newsletter index page, June 2018
June 2018

Liz Dawes with her son the late Conor Dawes
Liz Dawes (right) started the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation
in memory of her son Connor (left).
 

Liz Dawes, her husband Scott and their two children Nick and Hannah have experienced first-hand the devastating toll brain cancer has on a child and their family.

Five years ago, Liz’s eldest son Connor died from brain cancer. Connor was just 18; brilliant, sporty and with a wonderful future ahead of him. That was, Liz said, until a brain tumour called ependymoma destroyed that future.

“We were plunged into a scary, foreign world”, said Liz.

“We weren’t ready for any of the things that Connor would have to endure. Not his surgery, rehabilitation, radiation or chemotherapy.”

Connor remained brave, philosophical and kind through his treatment and helped his family prepare themselves for the inevitable.

“I knew that Connor’s physical self was going to die. But I was determined to keep his spirit alive,” said Liz.

“Within weeks of Connor dying, we started a foundation in his name to raise money for brain cancer research.”

Immunotherapy hope

The best hope for new treatments and potential cures for brain cancer is through medical research. One area of research in particular, immunotherapy, holds great promise.

The Robert Connor Dawes Foundation, run by Connor’s family, has pledged to support the brain cancer research of Dr Misty Jenkins at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.

Dr Jenkins said she was investigating a type of immunotherapy in which a patient’s immune cells were isolated and genetically modified to become targeted killer T cells, then reinfused to attack and kill brain cancer cells.

“What makes this approach so unique is that the genetically modified killer T cells will only target and kill the cancer cells, leaving the healthy ones alone,” Dr Jenkins said.

Along with the potential to cure brain cancer, research will also be conducted to limit inflammation during treatment and other potential side effects.

Making a commitment

Liz said she would never stop grieving for her son and was determined to spend the rest of her life fundraising for brain cancer research.

“No one should suffer the loss of a child to this devastating disease.”

“That is why the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation has pledged to match every dollar donated to Dr Jenkins’ brain cancer research at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, up to $100,000,” Liz said.

To donate to Dr Misty Jenkins’ brain cancer research please click here or call 03 9345 2403.