Why are we fund raising for Gastro-Intestinal Cancer?
Gastro-intestinal (GI) cancer is a broad term used to encompass cancers
of the digestive system: the oesophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder,
bile ducts, pancreas and bowel. It is collectively the most common form
of cancer in New Zealand. Each year nearly 5,000 New Zealanders are
diagnosed with a GI cancer; half of these people will die within five
years of diagnosis. Yet despite being the most prevalent form of cancer,
it is under-represented in funding and awareness.
Do I have your attention?
In February 2014 we received a call from Hilary, my husband Tony’s sister.
Hilary was living in England and had been for the best part of 30
years. She told us the terrible news of her diagnosis with Pancreatic
Cancer, the outcome was grim, there was very little they could do, and
she wanted to come home and live with us.
We hung up from that phone
call totally devastated, as you can well imagine, and with very little
knowledge on what Pancreatic Cancer actually was. We set forth to
research on the internet, made appointments with doctors and specialists,
and organised our home for her arrival on 29th March. What we learnt over the following four weeks, before her arrival, was harrowing and it was
difficult to get our heads around the fact that this had happened to a
woman who had been home with us at Christmas, walked for an hour each
day, went to Hot Yoga every single day, ate well, had a fabulous body,
and was an incredibly fit and vibrant 53 year old.
The scary part was that the signs that alerted Hilary to her illness started off as nothing more than an upset stomach, some indegestion and then a nagging pain in her lower back.
Nothing major, you would think, but with
Pancreatic cancer these are the telltail signs and in many cases the
disease is already in its advanced stages. Not a lot can be done, but
whatever the doctors had to throw at it Hilz was prepared to take. She
was not going to give up without a fight and had the mind-set that she
could beat this. Fight she certainly did, she clung onto life with a
will as strong as a thousand lions and she tried very hard to beat this
After four rounds of chemotherapy and many visits
to the doctor, Auckland Hospital, copious amounts of pills and time in
Hospice, Pancreatic Cancer took our dear Hilz, almost six months to the
day of her diagnosis.
We have been left with a huge void in our
lives, always struggling with the WHY Hilz? How can this happen to such a
vivacious healthy person? Why wasn’t this diagnosed earlier? Why was
it so brutal? Why did she have endure so much pain and then the, what
can we do?
Sadly, gastro-intestinal cancer is the most common form of cancer in New Zealand, and affects males and females equally.
Within weeks of losing
Hilz another dear friend, Trish Beadle, a sporty, fit, active, rock 'n'
rolling wife and mother of four, in her 50’s, also passed away with a GI
From all of this, we have learnt to value the life we have; to treasure the smallest of moments and to try very hard to slow down a little, but most of all to listen to our bodies and to be aware.
Tony and I made a pledge to help raise awareness and support the Gastro-Intestinal Cancer Institute of New Zealand by raising funds to support their clinical research, which in turn will benefit anyone who is faced with this dreadful disease.
How much did we raise?
Click here to find out how much was raised at the 'Raising It For Hilz' fundraising event, held on 23 August 2015.