BY TALKING about their own stories of survival to give hope to others fighting Gastro-intestinal (GI) cancers, two residents will head to Brisbane next week for the Engage Community Forum.
Gin Gin's Judy Honor and Bundaberg's Dan Kent both know first-hand the journey those diagnosed with GI cancer have to travel and hope they can assist not only others facing cancer, but their families, carers and improve the chances of survival.
As the only two Queenslanders on a Consumer Advisory Panel for GI cancers, the pair has been fighting for years to help improve the lives of everyone affected by GI cancers, Australia's most common group of cancers which affect 23,000 people a year.
Cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas and bowel include some of the most aggressive, together claiming a devastating 29 lives a day in Australia - more than 10,000 a year.
"I tell people how important support is," Mr Kent said.
"Things might not be normal afterwards, but you find a new normal."
Mr Kent, who lost his daughter to breast cancer in 2002, fought his own cancer battle after being diagnosed with rectal cancer and said he wanted those who survive GI cancer to enjoy life, because being here, whatever the challenge, was better than the alternative.
Mrs Honor said she hoped to encourage current cancer patients to embrace clinical trials where possible and said research was the key.
"In part of my talk I speak about the value of clinical trials and how important it is for people to take part for all future development of cancer treatment," she said.
Diagnosed with bowel cancer in 1996, at age 36, Mrs Honor has since fought a long battle involving surgery and chemotherapy, the discovery of a rare gene defect, subsequent development of liver, then breast cancer.
Mr Kent said the advisory panel was looking to hold a similar event in Bundaberg before March next year.
Where: Sofitel Hotel, Brisbane Central, 249 Turbot St
When: August 19, 6.30pm
To register phone 1300 666 769 or visit www.gicancer.org.au