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Transforming the cancer story

This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Winter ‘24
Raimo wearing a striped top and polo fleece vest has his arm around his wife Tiina.

In Australia, one person is diagnosed with cancer every three minutes.

Raimo was born in Finland. Two years after moving to Australia, and not long after celebrating his 20th wedding anniversary with his wife on Hamilton Island, Raimo began to experience unusual symptoms.

“I developed an odd gastro with strong stomach aches that lasted on-and-off for six weeks. The pain became so unbearable that I eventually ended up in emergency.”

At the hospital, Raimo was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer.

Raimo’s medical team successfully performed two surgeries after his diagnosis: one to remove the primary tumour in the bowel, and the other one in the liver. After recovering from the surgeries, Raimo underwent six months of chemotherapy treatment.

“This was the hardest part of the cancer treatment. Chemotherapy took the life out of me,” he says.

“I became aware of WEHI’s cancer research and I became a WEHI consumer advocate to help scientists in advancing cancer research.

“My hope is that more people with advanced cancers can survive, just as I did.”

Raimo is currently working with Associate Professor Oliver Sieber and his team, who are conducting pioneering research using tumour organoids – miniature 3D cancer models grown from a patient’s own tissue – to help identify the most suitable treatment for a patient’s specific cancer.

Raimo is now cancer-free and cherishing every moment with his family. He plans to continue to support medical research into bowel cancer.

“I was diagnosed with a highly advanced cancer and, against the odds, I survived. However, I recognise that my outcome is not the norm,” he says.

“I am determined to help change these statistics and improve the health outcomes for all cancer patients. It was me this time, but it could be someone you love in the future who is faced with this ordeal.”

Header image: Raimo and his wife Tiina.

 

First published on 06 June 2024
This article featured in Illuminate Newsletter Winter ‘24
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Illuminate Winter 2024
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