The biggest challenge yet for top cancer researcher

In March 2021, 65 gutsy trekkers will hike to the top of Australia’s highest mountain and one of the world’s Seven Summits – Mt Kosciuszko in Jindabyne.

The 65 adventurers include GI cancer patients, their family members, medical professionals, AGITG members and GI Cancer Institute staff. The team trek 18.5km through some challenging terrain, all to raise vital funds for GI cancer research.

This is the largest Gutsy Challenge to date, led by Associate Professor Nick Pavlakis. Nick is currently leading the clinical trial INTEGRATE II/IIb which offers a new treatment option for people with gastro-oesophageal cancer, which is relatively rare and has a devastating impact on patients. He believes that the new treatment could prolong survival for these patients.

“The funds raised from the Mt Kosciuszko Gutsy Challenge are vital to helping medical professionals like myself find the best treatments possible for GI cancer patients. The reason I got into clinical research was the need to do better for the patient that was in front of me.”

Stomach cancer survivor Lyn Ewart will join him on the trek. This will be her first Gutsy Challenge.

“This challenge has ticked all the boxes for me and is something my husband and I can do together as a team. I’m looking forward to meeting other people that may have an experience like mine and learning more about the research that’s being done,” says Lyn.

Hollie Ritchie’s grandfather passed away from GI cancer which was devastating for her whole family. “I work in clinical research on a number of GI cancer trials (and multiple other cancers) and understand the importance of research to better the outcomes and treatment options for cancer patients. I see how cancer effects the lives of these patients every day and am grateful for their willingness to participate in research,” she says.

Steven and Lisa North will also be participating in this Gutsy Challenge, as GI cancer research is a cause incredibly close to their hearts. In 2019 Steven was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. He is also a patient of Associate Professor Pavlakis. “There are currently no tests to diagnose this type of cancer and for most people it is usually found too late. We want to see research done to change this terrible outcome,” says Steven’s wife, Lisa.

Lisa North training for the Gutsy Challenge

The funds raised from the Mt Kosciuszko Gutsy Challenge will support the AGITG Innovation Grant, which provides researchers with the opportunity to conduct ground-breaking research in areas that have not been studied before. It is an important early step to provide better treatment options for GI cancer patients.

Without these Gutsy Challenges and the support of our community, we would not able to provide this vital funding.

We are grateful to all our trekkers for their commitment and dedication to GI cancer research and look forward to meeting them on the mountain!

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