A Stage 4 prostate cancer diagnosis would stop most people in their tracks, but for Jim Walker, he used it as motivation to get fit and take on a challenging 800km trek while raising money for prostate cancer research at the same time.
Jim set his sights on the Camino Santiago, an 800km walk on the medieval pilgrimage trail across the north of Spain. He felt the spiritual nature of the Camino would help him to keep a positive mindset about his diagnosis.
If completing this extraordinary challenge wasn’t incredible enough, Jim also raised over $13,000 for APC!
“I did a lot of research and had many conversations with doctors to understand the disease and concluded that prostate cancer was close to being managed as a chronic condition, rather than being a life sentence,” Jim said.
“I wanted to do my bit and get some funding for the researchers so they can push the envelope. Even if it’s too late for me, it may help others.
“I convinced my son to do the walk with me just in case my condition deteriorated drastically. Luckily, I felt better and better as I travelled!”
The pair trekked about 25km each day for 33 days, including three mountain climbs of over 1200m in elevation, totalling more than 800km travelled. For Jim, the trek through rural Spain, seeing ancient villages, farms, people and views, was breathtaking.
Finally finishing the walk was the ultimate highlight for Jim.
“You meet many travellers along the way and they are all walking for their own reasons – most of them spiritual or wrestling with demons of some sort.
“When you arrive in Santiago you meet people you may not have seen for weeks and your first instinct is to hug them. You have many contemplative or meditative moments on the trip.”
“It’s hard for me to envision a future free from prostate cancer as I don’t think it will be achievable for me, but for brothers, sons and fathers in future, a future free of prostate cancer means taking a demon off their shoulders, allowing a more satisfying life.”
Jim’s incredible achievement and amazing donation allows us to continue funding lifesaving medical research into prostate cancer.
If you would like to learn more about fundraising for APC, click here or call us on (08) 8243 1101.
At 73 years old, Ron Dare loves keeping fit and healthy through regular sessions of tennis and golf, so it came as quite a shock to him when he discovered he had early stages of prostate cancer.
Ron started experiencing health issues five years ago when he was having trouble with urine flow. His doctor informed him his Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) levels had risen slightly, which is a sigh of prostate cancer.
The only treatment option available is invasive surgery because of the enlarged prostate, so Ron decided to decline treatment and wait and see, while continuing to monitor his PSA levels.
“I’ve had two biopsies with the most recent being in January of this year to check if the prostate cancer has spread. This biopsy indicates a possible decrease in the cancer, so I will continue to monitor the cancer through PSA tests and MRIs,” Ron said.
Ron makes a monthly donation to APC as a Regular Giver, with the hope our researchers can develop non-invasive therapies to treat early diagnoses and one day even a cure for prostate cancer.
Ron’s nephew is also prostate cancer researcher Dr Philip Gregory from the Centre for Cancer Biology, who we’ve proudly funded in the past and is making significant breakthroughs in understanding prostate cancer which could lead to new therapies (you can read about Dr Gregory’s research here).
“Thus far, I have had five years of operation and symptom free good health. My good fortune does not, however, diminish the need for more and increasing support of prostate cancer research.
“I know our researchers are working extremely hard each day to develop new therapies and help save lives from prostate cancer.”
We are grateful for people like Ron who donate regularly to support our researchers.
If you would like to become a Regular Giver, click here or contact us on (08) 8243 1101 for more information.
Sadly, one in seven Australian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 75.
The good news is survival rates are improving thanks to early detection and treatment, meaning long-term satisfaction is becoming increasingly important when making decisions about treatment.
A recent study sought to explore this issue further, enabled by the support of Australian Prostate Cancer’s (APC) generous donors to inform future care.
The project, supervised by Associate Professor Kim Moretti, head of Urology at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, surveyed more than 430 prostate cancer patients from the period of their diagnosis to two years post-therapy.
The survey looked at the satisfaction levels of patients who were treated with external beam radiation therapy compared to radical prostatectomy.
“Quality of life beyond treatment is becoming an increasingly important factor for patients and clinicians when making decisions about therapies, due to the high long-term survival rates of the disease,” A/Prof Moretti said.
“Interestingly this study found that satisfaction among prostate cancer patients is high, and that satisfaction levels do not depend on mode of treatment or demographic variables.”
He said patients were more likely to be satisfied if their longer-term health was maintained, particularly in the prostate-specific areas of urinary, bowel and sexual function.
“Other studies have found radiotherapy patients had higher levels of long-term dissatisfaction due to the chronic nature of the side-effects of radiotherapy, and conversely surgery carries more acute side effects. However our analysis revealed no significant difference between treatment modalities.
“Unique to our study were findings that men were more dissatisfied if they were experiencing hormonal changes, particularly hot flushes, breast tenderness and enlargement, feeling depressed, lack of energy and changes in body weight.
“This is useful for clinicians to be aware of before and after treatment.”
The research was enabled by the South Australian Prostate Cancer Clinical Outcomes Collaborative (SA-PCCOC) database, which is co-funded by APC.
Congratulations to Dr Philip Gregory from the Centre for Cancer Biology who has been awarded a ‘Beat Cancer’ Principal Research Fellowship and prestigious Federal funding to progress his team’s promising work into prostate cancer.
This success has only been possible because of seed funding provided by Australian Prostate Cancer, as part of The Hospital Research Foundation Group.
Seed funding is a critical step for researchers to advance ideas or prove concepts, which can then lead to bigger discoveries and larger national grants.
Dr Gregory has now won funding from the prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to advance his discovery regarding the link between a new biomarker and the survival of prostate cancer patients.
“We could not have achieved this result without the generous support of donors,” Dr Gregory said.
“These projects will help the team make a difference for the thousands of men diagnosed with prostate cancer each year.”
Centre for Cancer Biology co-Directors, Professors Angel Lopez AO and Sharad Kumar AM, recognised the impact of vital seed funding.
“Without the support of donors and The Hospital Research Foundation Group, our vital research and mission to translate our discoveries into cures would not be possible,” Prof Lopez said.
The NHMRC funding came with a special endorsement from the Federal Minister for Health, The Honourable Greg Hunt MP, who recognised the progress Dr Gregory has made so far.
“Dr Gregory and his team have identified a novel pathway that is induced as tumours progress to this lethal stage,” Minister Hunt said.
“The research will investigate the importance of this pathway and potentially open up new avenues for therapies yet to be considered.
“It can save lives and protect lives.”
Donate today to support APC, and together we can kickstart more lifesaving projects!
Running a four-hour marathon might seem gruelling and unbearable for some people, but not for Nick Brigham who had the memory of two loved ones spurring him on in the 2018 Adelaide Marathon, while raising an incredible $1,600 for Australian Prostate Cancer in the process!
Sadly, Nick lost his father-in-law Peter seven years ago after a four-year battle with prostate cancer. Very soon after, Nick’s wife Alex also lost her Godfather ‘Truck’ to prostate cancer.
“It was an extremely hard time for the family, having not one but two significant men in our lives lose their battle to prostate cancer,” Nick said.
Throughout the 42km marathon, which he completed in four hours and 17 minutes, Nick had the memory of both men motivating him for each step.
“I tried to think of something that would keep me going, not just during the marathon but the hard training sessions after work too,” Nick said.
“I thought of the suffering that prostate cancer causes and how many Australian men are doing it tough right at this moment. That’s what kept me going.”
Special occasions are particularly hard, Nick said.
“My wife and I recently celebrated our 25-year wedding anniversary and it was extremely upsetting and difficult not to have either of them here to celebrate with us.”
Nick is passionate about prostate cancer research and hopes his efforts will go towards supporting researchers who work tirelessly to identify potential treatments that will save men’s lives.
“Prostate cancer is so insidious and can be very hard to detect, sometimes making the diagnosis when it’s too late,” Nick said.
“It’s so important for everyday people like myself to support our talented researchers so they can make breakthroughs and save the lives of men who are diagnosed with this disease. If my efforts can help discover treatments so no one has to go through the heartbreak that my family and loved ones have endured then it’s all worth it.
“I hope people read my story and are inspired to create their own fundraising event and raise money towards prostate cancer. You will be supporting our researchers and also all the men who have suffered prostate cancer or are about to face that battle.”
In a promising new development, scientists working tirelessly at the Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB) have identified that high levels of a protein called ‘quaking’ contributes to the poor outlook for prostate cancer tumours that have become resistant to chemotherapy and other treatments.
They have also found this quaking protein is higher in patients with prostate cancer which spreads to other parts of the body, becoming more difficult to treat.
Dr Phillip Gregory and Professor Greg Goodall are thrilled to have made this finding, made possible through funding provided by Australian Prostate Cancer as part of The Hospital Research Foundation Group.
“We’ve made really good progress in our research since securing funding earlier in 2018,” Dr Gregory explained.
“We screened a very large cohort of prostate cancer patients, in collaboration with colleagues in Canada, finding exactly what we had hoped – that high levels of this protein do indeed correlate with a bad prognosis for prostate cancer and the spread of this disease.
“This now means we can start our work in developing models where we can manipulate this protein and look at its effect on cancer cells in the hope to lead to new treatments for aggressive, hard to treat prostate cancer.”
A clinical trial to test a new treatment for prostate cancer is currently underway at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, bringing hope to Australian men living with this disease.
Pushparaj Velayudham, the Oncology Trials Manager at the Northern Adelaide Cancer Centre, said the trial is testing the effectiveness of an immunotherapy drug called Nivoulmab and how it works in combination with other drugs to treat inoperable prostate cancer.
“Immunotherapy is one of the more advanced therapies used in treating cancer. It targets cancer cells more specifically than chemotherapy,” Pushparaj explained.
“Currently, there is no immunotherapy approved for treating prostate cancer. However, the available data and rationale shows that a combination therapy involving immunotherapy will provide patients better results for prostate cancer.”
The clinical trial, supported by Britol-Myers Squibb Australia, is an example of how research conducted in the laboratory can begin to be translated into the clinic and treat patients.
Nivoulmab is already approved as a treatment for certain types of cancers, including cancers of the skin, kidney and lung. If proven to be effective in conjunction with other treatments, it could be approved for use more broadly in men with prostate cancer that can’t be surgically removed.
“We are still recruiting patients for this trial. We currently have one patient enrolled locally and a total of 300 patients worldwide,” Pushparaj said.
“We are also always in need of additional funding to support our Centre to enable us to provide the most recent treatments to our patients and give them hope when they need it most.”
For more information on criteria for these clinical trials at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, please contact the Clinical Trials Centre on 8282 0833.
It’s because of the support of our donors that we can contribute to prostate cancer research at the Lyell McEwin Hospital and save the lives of Australian men. Help with the fight and donate today!
Cancer fighting T cells already present in our blood may hold the key to fighting tumours in prostate cancer, replacing the need for invasive surgery.
Research from the Basil Hetzel Institute for Translational Health Research (BHI), has found that activated T cells delivered to a localised area enhances their cancer killing potential. This is particularly effective when treating the early stages of prostate and breast cancers, which develop in a confined space.
Following successful outcomes in the lab by the BHI’s Dr Irene Zinonos and team led by Prof Andreas Evdokiou, more funding is now needed to progress the findings to human clinical trials.
“Cancer fighting T cells hold great promise for the treatment of many cancers as part of our immune defence mechanism against malignant cells,” Dr Zinonos said.
“However, they only appear in our blood in very small numbers.”
The small numbers of T cells already present in the blood are unable to naturally fight highly dividing, aggressive and hormone driven cancers like breast and prostate.
But Dr Zinonos and her colleagues have found that by capturing a patient’s T cells, expanding their numbers in a lab and then targeting them back into the affected area, their cancer fighting ability improves.
“Local delivery of these T cells in large numbers increases their anti-cancer potential against prostate cancer cells, before the cancer cells advance and become aggressive and spread to other organs.
“We expect the T cells to migrate in large numbers, killing cancer cells in the local vicinity while leaving normal cells unharmed.”
This innovative approach hopes to replace the current process of removing the cancer through surgery, which is dangerous and has significant complications.
“Our approach is non-invasive, effective and safe, and given our exciting data thus far, we are confident that the results from this study will provide support and justification to move towards clinical application,” Dr Zinonos said.
“Without the funding support our research simply cannot continue. The ongoing contribution from donors is vital in our research and we cannot thank them enough for their support.”
Still grieving the loss of his loving father who passed away from prostate cancer at the age of 94, 68-year-old John Murray found himself diagnosed with the same heartbreaking disease in June last year.
After one of John’s regular check-ups, test results showed a high PSA level. Concerned with the results, doctors sent him to have a biopsy, which sadly confirmed news John didn’t want to hear.
“When I was first diagnosed I was shocked, I had just seen my father lose his life to prostate cancer and I was about to face the same battle,” John said.
The treatment John underwent was called brachytherapy, where radioactive seeds are injected into the prostate, damaging the cancer cells and destroying their ability to divide and grow. Thanks to early detection, this less-invasive treatment was an option for John.
Having to travel to the Royal Adelaide Hospital from his hometown of Whyalla for the operation, John and his loving wife Judy had concerns about where they would stay throughout the treatment.
“I had no idea what we were going to do. Thankfully I had heard of the Under Our Roof homes from my two friends who stayed there while receiving cancer treatment,” John said.
The Under Our Roof homes provides accommodation for country cancer patients receiving treatment at hospitals in South Australia. Australian Prostate Cancer is a charitable affiliate of The Hospital Research Foundation Group, who fund the project that has now been providing accommodation for Australian families since 2015.
Today, John is happy to share his PSA levels have dropped and he has received the news from his doctors he is now cancer free!
“I’m feeling great now and I can go back to enjoying my life with Judy, my family and friends. I am extremely grateful of the outcome and am happy to say I am cancer free.”
You can support our researchers who are working hard every day to find a cure for this heartbreaking disease, click here to find out more.