Breakthrough Cancer – We’re Not Giving Up Until Cancer Gives In
“Sadly cancer is a disease which many Irish families have experience with, be that a relative or friend. My grandparents survived service in World War II, only to eventually succumb to cancer. However, cancer really only seriously impacted me when it came knocking at my front door.
Three weeks before we were due to be married my wife was diagnosed with a rare type of skin cancer. It was able to disguise itself as a benign mole, and was so rare we couldn’t even find information about it on the internet. Thankfully we were still able to get married, but instead of going on honeymoon my wife took a trip to the operating theatre.
This was in October of 2006, and at that point we weren’t sure if she would make it to Christmas. Fortunately, the operation was a success, but that wasn’t the end of our journey yet. We were so relieved by this good news, that at the time we didn’t really take in the words of warning from the doctor that we might never be able to have kids, and that there would be a ‘baby ban’ for at least the next three years.
We lovingly welcomed our first child after this first baby ban was lifted,
but sadly our second baby miscarried due to complications from a new unrelated growth which had an associated risk of turning cancerous. So more surgery and another baby ban followed.
With regular reviews and monitoring from her respective medical teams, now in 2021, I am overjoyed to report that my wife is fit & healthy, and we have two great kids. But, we never take it for granted and the fight never stops. Only more research can find new treatments faster, and make the difference for patients now and in the future.
I work for a great software company, Qualtrics, who support Breakthrough Cancer Research with a yearly 5 For the Fight Campaign (5FTF). I contribute a portion of my salary to the 5FTF cause and take part in company-sponsored events whenever I can.
Last year, the day after I ran the virtual 5km with my kids as part of 5FTF, my great aunt called to tell me she had cancer. She died a few weeks later in the middle of lockdown. We’re not giving in until cancer gives in. I hope you won’t give up on cancer research either.”
Introducing Dr. Fiona Crotty, Breakthrough Musgrave 2020 Scholar
As you know, at Breakthrough Cancer Research it is our mission to research poor prognosis cancers, in order to improve survival rates and minimise side effects of current treatments. Key to the success of this aim are our researchers, and we are proud to report that we currently have 67 highly skilled and passionate researchers throughout the country.
Today, we would like to introduce you to one of the newest members of our research team, Dr. Fiona Crotty. Fiona has been awarded the Breakthrough Musgrave 2020 Scholarship. During this three-year PhD scholarship, which is co-funded by our friends and partners in Musgrave, Fiona will be Assessing Immune Response to Neoadjuvant Treatment in Oesophagogastric Adenocarcinoma.
So what does that mean?
Our immune system can fight cancer, yet cancer can often escape detection or even deactivate our immune responses. Within oesophageal tumours we’ve studied, we can see inflammation, which is a sign of immune system activation. By looking at the immune cells around the tumour – its Microenvironment – we can see different patterns of inflammation and immune activity in different patients. In some cancers, the immune microenvironment can show response to treatment and allow us to predict cancer behaviour and prognosis.
To date, little research has been done on the microenvironment of oesophagogastric cancer, the cancer at the junction between the stomach and oesophagus. Current treatments for this cancer are brutal and ineffective. We need to know more so we can do better for our patients. The aim of Fiona’s research is to use the immune cells to predict who will respond to which treatment. We hope to offer patients only the treatment they need, avoid unnecessary side effects and disease progression, ultimately, improve patient outcomes and quality of life.
Cancer Won’t Wait
Mr. Jim Clover, surgeon treating cancer patients, talks about why cancer research is so important.