After months in lockdown and working from home, Karina Koch found she had some extra time up her sleeve and wanted to make the best use of it. As a keen bushwalker, Karina decided to take part in her own Gutsy Challenge fundraiser, 22 days for Rae.
Karina’s father, Rae, first found cancer in his appendix in 2008. He was initially rushed to hospital with appendicitis. That was when a tumour was discovered. The tumour was removed, but not long after, a routine PET scan detected cancer in Rae’s oesophagus.
Chemo and radiation treatment followed. Though the tumour in the oesophagus disappeared, the damage was done and secondary liver cancer was diagnosed.
After a challenging two and a half years, Rae devastatingly passed away in April 2011.
“We were fortunate that Dad was able to stay at home for most of his illness, and he died at home. We had a fantastic network of family and friends supporting us. People really came out of the woodwork to show support in practical ways. One family friend who was a nurse took annual leave when Dad entered the short palliative care stage of his journey.”
Karina has decided to undertake 22 days for Rae to honour her father’s memory and to raise much needed funds for oesophageal cancer research. She will walk 5km a day for 22 days – rain, hail or snow! Totalling 110km, it is truly an amazing challenge she has set herself.
“Upon reading more about oesophageal cancer, what really stood out to me was the 22% five-year survival rate. It’s not much higher than the survival rate for playing Russian roulette – when you stop and think about it. The number 22 just stuck in my head and that’s how I came to the decision to walk 22 days for Rae – my dad.”
Karina and her father enjoyed spending time together watching their favourite rugby team – the Melbourne Storm. They also shared an interest in John Grisham books, the TV show CSI and photography.
Karina’s goal in walking 22 days for Rae is to ensure that no one else has to go through what her family went through.
“I find the 22% five-year survival rate for oesophageal cancer to be shockingly unacceptable. Something needs to be done to address this. My little fundraiser may be just a drop in the ocean but at least I will know I have done my part and tried to bring awareness and funding to this important matter which really does affect the future of myself and my family.”
Karina starts her walk on Wednesday 15 July and finishes Wednesday 5 August 2020. To support her efforts in raising funds for oesophageal cancer research you can donate to her page or send a message of support: https://inmemory.gofundraise.com.au/page/Karina-62739613