More than 1000 people turned out at North Beach on a cold and windy Mother’s Day to continue the breast cancer fundraising work started by the late Dr Margaret Gardiner.
Dr Gardiner was the founding ambassador of the annual Mother’s Day Fun Run now organised by close friend Grant Plecas who is equally passionate about raising money for the the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Proceeds from the 17th annual event will fund ongoing research into breast cancer. In a tribute to Dr Gardiner’s legacy hundreds of women and men and some pets wore pink tutu’s.
After a moment’s silence for loved ones and friends there was an address by Dr Kara Perrow who spoke of her research at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI).
Dr Perrow was the recipient of the inaugural Dr Margaret Gardiner Scholarship presented by the Illawarra International Women’s Day Committee.
“I am absolutely honoured to be speaking at an event that was so close to Margaret’s heart,” she said.
“Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women. Eight women die from this disease each day. Although the number of women diagnosed is increasing each year I am happy to say the mortality is decreasing. Of the 18,000 Australian women predicted to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, greater than 90 per cent will still be alive in five years.”
The improvement in survival is being achieved by fundamental research aimed at gaining a better understanding of how breast cancer arrives and what drives its progression.
“Continued research is the only way to prevent deaths and improve how breast cancer is diagnosed, managed and treated,” Dr Perrow said.
She is working on ways to treat breast cancer by modulating the bodies own immune system. Positive results have been seen with melanoma through work on making the cancer visible to the body’s immune system so it can seek out and destroy the cancer cells.
“The importance of the immune system in breast cancer is increasingly being recognised,” she said.
“A large body of evidence shows breast cancer patients with high levels of immune cells within their tumor have a good prognosis following extended treatments. However with the majority of patients the immune system is unable to recognise and attack the tumor.”
The project Dr Perrow is working on is the first time one such approach has been attempted. She said the results to date were exciting and could result in a significant breakthrough.
“I would like to thank you all for helping raise vital funds,” she said.
“I am continually inspired by your efforts and am extremely grateful for your passion and motivation to help find a cure”.
Mr Plecas said Dr Perrow’s work showed just what a difference funding more research can make.
“Thank you everyone for coming along in these trying conditions. There were over 1000 pre-registrations and we had more today. It is just amazing. It is over $30,000 we have raised.”
That included a presentation of $13,000 raised from a golf day Harrigon Ford helped run.
The chilly weather did not stop Lynette Schwarze, of Thirroul, from doing her 10th Mother’s Day event in 11 years.
“It is colder and more windy today. I do this to help find a cure. Last year was the biggest crowd I have seen. I got out of bed in the cold because I wouldn’t miss this for the world.”
Mrs Schwarze was joined by her daughter Renee Schwarze in memory of a mutual friend who died from breast cancer two years ago.