Recently, I participated in the Weekend to Ends Women’s Cancers to benefit the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. This was the third and final two-day 60 kilometre walk event. I have participated in all three of them, but my feet and legs could only manage to do day one on each occasion. Still, 30 kilometres is a good ramble. The best part of the event is the opportunity to talk to people (mostly women) about women’s cancers, their motivation for engaging in the walk and sharing with them the research progress at QIMR Berghofer and elsewhere, that speaks to the continuing need for better prevention, detection and treatment of these cancers.
In August we had the fifth and final Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer. This was an equally challenging event—riding 200 kilometres in two days. I participated in this for the first three years, and again my lack of training or skill meant that I completed only day one of the event riding more than 100 kilometres. Again it was a big demand to go all day up and down hill. In the second year, the wind was in the wrong direction and we had to pedal downhill. I have previously blogged about that event and lessons learned. I have recognised that those participating were doing so for love of somebody close to them, to have a cathartic release of anger against cancer and to obtain hope from the research we would perform using their dollars.
But of course, cancer has not been cured (the implicit message of the Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer), nor have women’s cancers ended (the implicit message of The Weekend to End Women’s Cancers). This being said, we have seen some great advances, for example: it used to be that 80 per cent of women diagnosed with breast cancer did not survive five years—now 80 per cent do. But there remains much more to be done. We at QIMR Berghofer and other researchers have to continue in our quest to move towards achieving these goals. The funding that came to QIMR Berghofer has made an enormous difference. Some of this is in the form of providing the best infrastructure and equipment that can be available that helps all researchers. It also has allowed us to initiate programs to attract PhD students to the Institute, thereby looking towards the future. It has helped us to recruit and retain crucial researchers that are part of our very strong team in the area of cancer in particular. But most visibly it has allowed research projects to commence that would have otherwise not been possible. It’s also allowed us to leverage funding from external agencies. Over the years, more than 30 such projects have been initiated.
One conundrum with working in Australia is that unless you have preliminary data you cannot get funding, and of course you need to have funding to get preliminary data. The Ride and the Walk provided this, and so much more.
Although these high visibility events have come to an end, our need for funding, especially for those stimulatory projects, remains. It is hoped the community we have bonded with over the years through their participation and support of the Ride and the Walk will stay with us and become regular donors. And you can do so also! Those who are participating in other community events can do so and raise money for QIMR Berghofer at the same time through Team Eureka. Finally we will be communicating a series of specific projects in need of funding and sharing them with the community that we have grown close to. Hopefully you/they will identify in this menu of opportunities, topics that they will particularly like to support. Information on this will be provided very soon. In the meantime, it is very appropriate to say a major thank you to all of those who directly or indirectly were engaged in the Ride and the Walk. It is strange that the end of the challenge of participating in these events brings more sadness at the fact that they will not continue than relief at the fact that the pain will not have to be incurred every year.