In 1996, local Canberra woman Sarah McGoram was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, gastro-intestinal stromal tumour (GIST), and was given only 12 months to live. Twenty-two years later, she will run 10km with a group of friends to raise awareness and funds for digestive cancer research.
When Sarah was first diagnosed, little was known about her disease and there were few treatments available.
She says that she has beaten the odds so far thanks to the development of new treatments and being able to participate in clinical trials; she is “riding the wave of medical research”.
“This wave has given me more than just treatment options. It has allowed me to have a healthy and fulfilling life.”
Sarah has used her experience to benefit others, becoming a strong advocate for better treatments and improving the patient experience when dealing with a digestive cancer diagnosis. In support, she is taking on a 10km Canberra fun run with friends Jenifer, Maggie, Ange and Vik.
But the group has another reason for their commitment to fighting digestive cancers. In December last year, Jenifer, who is in her 40s with three primary school aged children, was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer.
“It came as a huge shock for someone who otherwise thought they were pretty fit and healthy, having completed the Canberra Half Marathon only eight months before being diagnosed,” Sarah says.
“In order to help Jen through her treatment, we all decided we’d sign up for a ‘Gutsy Challenge’ to compete in at the end of it. It has given her something to ‘train for’ to get through the hard times.”
Jen has spent the past 12 months fighting her cancer, recovering from surgeries and managing chemotherapy. She and Sarah have trained at the gym throughout their treatments, to keep their minds and bodies as strong as possible to fight their digestive cancers.
Both Sarah and Jen know the devastating impact of digestive cancers, which is why they are dedicated to raising awareness and much-needed funds for research conducted by the GI Cancer Institute.
The group hopes that their support of life-saving research will give hope to the 24,600 Australians diagnosed with a digestive cancer every year.
To support Sarah and Jenifer, go to gicancer.org.au/CanberraRun