In September 2022, the Community Advisory Panel (CAP) welcomed Christie Ah-Fa as a member. Christie was introduced to the AGITG’s work by oncologists Dr Manju Chandrasegaram and Dr Matthew Burge – who treated her husband, Lei, when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two years ago.
“Having severe complications with his first line of chemotherapy treatment his prognosis wasn’t good, his treatment options were reduced,” says Christie.
“And so I began my research journey into the world of clinical trials and alternative treatment options out of pure desperation.”
Tragically, Lei passed away this past February. Christie lost her husband and best friend; she describes it as “the most devastating time” for her and her young family.
However, she found meaning in her work with the AGITG and subsequently hope in her grief.
“Lei may never directly benefit from the amazing research that is continually happening, but I know that his cancer battle wasn’t in vain. The more I can do to continue honouring him in helping find hope for others, then I really want to keep doing that.
“From a consumer perspective, I think that when people share honestly about their reasons for being involved in organisations like the AGITG it bridges a gap that is sometimes felt by families between navigating overwhelming medical information and the reality of supporting someone on a cancer journey.”
She also says that she is motivated by the human stories behind the numbers around cancer and survival.
“Each percentage of these research statistics represents a real person like my husband Lei, who is so loved and missed each day. This is what really drives my passion and involvement with the AGITG, and I am very thankful for this opportunity.”
Established in 2008, the Community Advisory Panel comprises GI cancer survivors, patients and carers. All CAP members volunteer their time and play a critical role in providing a consumer perspective and advice to the AGITG on general research directions and priorities as well as identifying unmet needs in the community.