When Ellie was diagnosed with breast cancer, her sister Lisa dropped everything to be at her side and help her conquer it.
When Lisa and Ellie received the news that they were both BRCA1-positive, they leant on each other for the psychological, emotional and physical strength to endure the preventative surgeries.
In response to these personal health challenges, Lisa and Ellie created the Two Sisters Foundation. Their aim was to educate and empower others facing similar ordeals, and to raise funds for medical research to change the cancer story for women around the world now and for the future generations to come.
Breast cancer affects one in eight women in Australia. Currently, women who carry a faulty BRCA1 gene have a 70% chance of developing breast cancer and a 40% chance of developing ovarian cancer.
The mission of the foundation is:
To help deliver real medical solutions to ensure quality and longevity of life for those impacted directly or indirectly by breast and ovarian cancers.
Lisa and Ellie live that mission through support of BRCA-related breast cancer research led by WEHI Professors Jane Visvader and Geoff Lindeman.
Professor Visvader and Professor Lindeman are world-renowned breast cancer researchers. A series of landmark findings by their cancer research group shed new light on our understanding of how breast cancers arise and how they could be prevented and treated.
In 2015, they discovered that a drug currently used to treat bone cancers may prevent women with faulty BRCA1 genes from developing breast cancer. A pilot study conducted in Melbourne illustrated promising findings and has successfully led to an international prevention study that is currently underway.
Their influential research is bringing us a step closer to improving outcomes for people with faulty BRCA genes and helping prevent cancers. Further research is vital to understand the complexities of cellular growth and interactions that cause breast and ovarian cancers to arise.
In explaining why they chose to support WEHI, the sisters state:
“We share their belief that the greatest hope for the future lies in medical research – and that the time for discovery is now. By helping to accelerate scientific processes, raise awareness, and provide access to information and testing, we are one step closer to ensuring survival.”
In 2019, the Two Sisters Foundation ran the inaugural Winter Ball at Mt Buller to raise funds for WEHI. Despite an enforced hiatus due to COVID-19, the Winter Ball revived in 2022.
Lisa and Ellie have plans to ensure the 2023 Winter Ball is bigger and better than before and are exploring other ways to raise funds. Their goal is to raise $5 million over five years, and powered by sisterhood, nothing will stand in their way.
“Personal experience has taught us that together we are stronger. Together we can face anything. We are Two Sisters on a mission to change the ‘cancer story’ permanently.”