When Sophia Hamblin Wang’s Aunty Helen was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August last year, Sophia was consumed with feelings of helplessness and anger.
“I was incredibly upset by Aunty Helen’s diagnosis,” says Sophia. “She has dedicated her life to caring for others and I thought it was totally unfair that she was dealt such a cruel blow.”
Pancreatic cancer has a five year survival rate of only 7%. It is a difficult cancer to detect and by the time it is diagnosed it is often too late. “I feel really sad that Helen has been given a terminal diagnosis. Her cancer is inoperable at this stage.”
Sophia was determined to support her Aunt through her ordeal. And to do even more — to channel her emotions to help make a positive future impact for families who will no doubt face similar circumstances. Sophia and her friend, Nik, whose uncle in law lost his life to stomach cancer last year, decided to take on a Gutsy Challenge this year.
“My family tried to get Helen enrolled in a clinical trial but the majority of the applicable ones were overseas, which was too far away and costly for us,” says Sophia. “Even locally my Aunty Helen’s closest Australian capital city is Brisbane, close to 2,000km from her home. I feel strongly that we need more research in Australia. And that’s why we chose the GI Cancer Institute, an organisation dedicated to funding clinical trial research in this country. By supporting them, we can do our part to help more Australians engage in the medical research ecosystem, and potentially access revolutionary treatments years before they organically make their way into our hospitals.”
Sophia and Nik‘s Gutsy Challenge is to run 200kms to raise funds and awareness for GI cancer clinical trial research. They both feel strongly that GI cancers do not get the attention they deserve. “People find it difficult to even talk about things like bowel cancer,” says Nik. “It’s important to get people engaged in discussion and to exercise to prevent developing cancer.”
“When I step out to run towards my goal of 200km, I choose to feel the sadness, numbness, rage and many other emotions that I’ve been holding in during the day. But I know that Helen is proud of the action we’ve taken. Even better, our run gives friends, and the wider community, a chance to show support for her.” says Sophia.