Your gift can help women just like Kendall!
There are many issues facing younger people today, but you wouldn’t think cancer was one of them.
The housing crisis, rising costs and extreme weather events – yes.
Cancer – not really, no.
Cancer continues to be most common in people over 50, but new research is showing cancer cases are rising at an alarming rate among a younger age group, and increased screening doesn’t explain it. Researchers believe lifestyle changes and exposure to environmental risks are factors.
Kendall Lette was just 31 when she found a lump in her breast two years ago.
“Given my age, I thought it was probably a cyst,” she remembers.
It wasn’t. Kendall was found to have breast cancer – it was Stage 3 and aggressive.
“All I could think was ‘I don’t want to die’.”
If cancer has affected you or someone you love – as it surely has us all – you’ll understand that everything changed for Kendall that day.
“I was working as a teacher in a school. I’d moved in with my partner, Tom, and we were hoping to start a family in the near future.”
But after her diagnosis, Kendall was left fearing she’d never be a mum. She knew chemotherapy could affect her fertility and she might need to store eggs or embryos to have any chance of children in the future.
At whatever age cancer strikes, people need to know that their lives won’t turn upside – a diagnosis could be a minor blip and not a major blow.
The treatment options we have today are thanks to past research. If we stop funding research, outcomes will stay as they are – and precious lives will continue to be lost.
With support we can continue to enable the pioneering work of Associate Professor Fiona Simpson. Fiona and her Simpson Lab colleagues wouldn’t be here today without donations from grateful hospital patients and community members who’ve been touched in some way by breast cancer.
“The many small gifts from people who care have helped us keep open during tough times,” says Associate Professor Simpson. “Right now, every dollar makes a big difference.”
The researchers in the Simpson Lab are determined to find the answers that people like Kendall need.
One long-term project is looking at exactly how cancer cells ‘hide’ from the immune system.
“We now know the machinery behind it,” explains Associate Professor Simpson. “We’ve identified all the players. The next step is knocking it down.”
The team is also looking at why cancer returns – a big issue for people like Kendall who have cancer at a young age, and face decades of uncertainty fearing it will return and be incurable.
Kendall had two lumpectomies, 14 rounds of chemotherapy and a double mastectomy before starting on a long-term drug treatment that induces a medical menopause.
Kendall’s was brave throughout her cancer journey but her treatment left her physically and mentally scarred.
“At the end of the treatment, you find yourself asking, ‘What next?’” Kendall says. “Can I really find some version of my old self?”
That’s how tough treatment for an aggressive and advanced cancer can be. And Kendall is all too aware that it could come back at any time.
Research really needs to keep moving forward today to treat our loved ones tomorrow.
Noone knows when we – or someone we love – will need a pioneering treatment. Together, we can make sure new options are in the pipeline.