In May 2022, Associate Professor Lara Lipton and clinical dietitian Belinda Steer led a Gutsy trek each through the Great Ocean Road, culminating at the Twelve Apostles in Victoria. After two years of waiting for an end to COVID lockdowns, Lara and Belinda were excited to finally be able to explore the great Victorian coastline!
Over four days, their team of 19 fundraisers trekked 46km along the Great Ocean Road in support of GI cancer research. The team travelled from different parts of the Australian east coast and from all walks of life, all connected by their common goal: to raise funds to improve treatment options for GI cancer patients.
For A/Prof Lara Lipton, this was her second Gutsy Challenge. In 2017 Lara trekked to the summit of Mt Aconcagua in Argentina along with her husband John, and a team of dedicated fundraisers.
As an oncologist, Lara witnesses the challenges faced by GI cancer patients each day.
“I see multiple people young and old who I am not going to be able to cure from their GI cancer. We are in desperate need of new therapies, and these will only emerge from clinical trials research,” says Lara.
“The GI Cancer Institute allows us to do trials which are investigator-driven, asking questions that we and our patients feel are important.”
As a dietitian, Belinda Steer feels GI cancer research is essential. Doing this trek was her way to contribute to the research that will ultimately improve the quality of life of her patients.
“I see the devastating impact GI cancer has on a person’s ability to eat and therefore enjoy so many of the special moments in our life. Through research we can hopefully find more effective and less toxic treatments for these patients so that they can enjoy their food more, and therefore their life,” says Belinda.
Both Lara and Belinda reflect on the stunning scenery, and the connections made with all the trekkers.
“I was able to meet and talk to new people, including the brother of one of my patients, who unfortunately never realised her dream of doing a Gutsy Challenge with me. Her brother decided to do it in her memory,” says Lara.
Overall the team raised an incredible $78,000 in support of new GI cancer research.
As Belinda sums it up:
“Doing this walk was a wonderful experience and sharing it with others who have the same passion for GI cancer research and who all so willingly shared their experiences and reason for participating, made it all the more special.”
The next Gutsy Adventure is happening in October 2022 in the NSW Blue Mountains.