North Wollongong's Kasey Vane is racing to find a cure for gastro-intestinal cancer after witnessing her mother, Anne's, ongoing battle with the disease.
On Sunday, the 26-year-old will sweat it out during a nine-kilometre run in the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival to raise money for the GI Cancer Institute.
Mrs Vane said she was motivated to raise funds for research after witnessing how a radical treatment helped improve her mother's quality of life.
"Mum was diagnosed with gastro-intestinal cancer in October last year when doctors found tumours at the junction of her stomach and oesophagus," she said. "She underwent four rounds of chemotherapy before she was taken into surgery for a gastrectomy which basically removes the stomach to stop the cancer spreading.
"Unfortunately surgeons found that the cancer had spread to her liver and they could not perform the operation.
"She was then told she had terminal cancer - it was devastating to be told that I would lose my mother."
With such a bleak diagnosis, the family turned to the radical treatment of combining chemotherapy with Herceptin, a drug typically used to treat a type of breast cancer.
"She's only been trialling it for a relatively short amount of time but the tumours have not spread any further, and they have shrunk," Mrs Vane said.
"Her quality of life on this drug is vastly improved as she has been able to come off some of the really strong chemotherapy drugs which caused severe side effects such as hair loss and vomiting.
"And she has been able to enjoy the time spent with her first grandchild - my eight-month-old daughter Ava."
GI Cancer Institute executive officer Russell Conley said 29 Australians died each day from gastro-intestinal cancer, while more than 23,000 people were diagnosed with it each year.
"Our research enables Australians with GI cancer to receive the best medical treatment," he said. "By conducting research in Australia, cancer patients receive new treatments many years earlier than if the research was to take place overseas."
Mrs Vane has raised $1150 so far in donations which will go towards vital research. Donations can be made at www.gofundraise.com.au/page/KaseyVane.
Her mother Anne Casey said she couldn't be more proud of her daughter and son-in-law Tyler, who is also participating in the Sydney race.
"Gastro-intestinal cancer doesn't get talked about much but it's killing many Australians," she said.
"I applaud Kasey and Tyler for taking part in this run to raise some awareness, and funds to give Australians better options for treatment."