Highlighting Stomach Cancer with the Silly Hat for Matt Challenge
In 2018 Trine Simpson and her friends, set up the Silly Hat for Matt Gutsy Challenge to honour Trine’s husband Matt and highlight the need for more research in to stomach cancer, which affects over 2,300 Australians every year – of which only 655 will survive beyond 5 years.
Matt was diagnosed with linitis plastica, a rare form of stomach cancer, in October 2012 and passed away in November 2013 aged just 40 years old, leaving behind a young family.
“I will never be able to have an answer for our boys when they ask me why their dad got sick and why he could not be cured. Why it had to be him? But I’m hoping that in some way, what we are all doing here will help others in the future to not have to answer those same questions about their loved ones because of the availability of far better treatment options.” says Trine.
“And despite the very sad reason why we are doing this challenge, it is also wonderful to do this in Matt‘s memory, and to be able to share stories and to remember a man who was always there for everyone and who always brought people together making sure they had a good time. Even in his glaring absence, he’s still managing to do exactly that.”
During 2018 over $22,000 was raised towards Stomach Cancer Research here in Australia thanks to the collective effort of Trine, her sons and friends located right around Australia.
What is Linitis Plastica?
Linitis plastica is a type of stomach adenocarcinoma. Adenocarcioma is the most common form of stomach cancer. Because linitus plastica is rare there is very little information about it. Linitis plastica spreads to the muscles of the stomach wall and makes it thicker and more rigid. This means that the stomach can’t hold as much and doesn’t stretch or move as it should when food is digested. This stiff walled stomach is sometimes called a leather bottle stomach.
As a rare cancer, Linitis Plastica has such poor early diagnosis and treatment options that only 8% survive after 5 years. The average survival rate after diagnosis is months, not years. This is a cancer that has no identified cause, no genetic testing available and treatment options are limited.
What is being done?
There is hope and research in to stomach cancer over the past few decades has been having an impact. Between 1982-1987 and 2009-2013 the 5-year survival rates for stomach cancer have risen over 10%, now up to 28.5%.
Progress is being made however more needs to be done to improve the treatment options for patients as well as increase the overall survival rate.
The GI Cancer Institute is currently conducting two clinical trials for stomach cancer and both are open for recruitment at present:
- TOPGEAR is a study investigating the benefit of adding radiation (chemoradiotherapy) to chemotherapy and surgery to treat and improve the overall survival in patients undergoing surgery for resectable stomach cancer (ie. where the stomach or part thereof can be removed).
- INTEGRATEII will explore the findings of the previous INTEGRATE clinical trial further. It aims to determine whether Regorafenib is an effective new treatment option for patients with advanced gastro-oesophageal cancer (located in the gastro-oesophgeal junction or stomach).TOPGEAR is to investigate the benefit of adding radiation (chemoradiotherapy) to chemotherapy and surgery to treat and improve the overall survival in patients undergoing surgery for resectable stomach cancer
So what is the #SillyHatforMattChallenge? Why Matt? Why the silly hats?
The #sillyhatformatt challenge was set up by Trine Simpson in memory of her late husband Matt – a fun-loving, easy-going, inquisitive guy who loved life and who lost his battle with stomach cancer aged just 40.
Matt was a big kid at heart and had a love for silly hats – wearing them at any and every opportunity. With two young sons, Trine is particularly driven to find better solutions for the future.
With this challenge the intention is to raise much needed funds for stomach cancer research, a ‘rare cancer’ that receives limited grants and resources. And with your help – through donating or getting active & taking part in a challenge – we aim to highlight a cancer which desperately needs more attention.
As part of a year long challenge over 100 people took part in various events and activities right across the country. Over $22,000 was raised in 2018 – with all money contributing to the GI Cancer Institute designated stomach cancer research.
Last but not least, Trine and her friends also wanted to have a bit of fun – remembering a man who loved life, who loved bringing people together and who loved wearing silly hats.
To support this initiative by way of a donation OR to sign up for a ‘silly hat’ event please visit www.gicancer.org.au/sillyhat