For nearly two decades, Judi Adams has brought breast cancer to light, raised awareness and hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical research.
She organized for Tasmania’s landmarks to be lit pink in October to inspire people to do vital things like breast self-checks, get medical checkups and speak out about the disease.
Ms Adams had been inspired to join the fight against breast cancer after the death of a dear friend in 1996, whose mother and sister also died of the disease.
She was volunteer chair of the Hobart Committee of the National Breast Cancer Foundation for 14 years, raised over $400,000 for research and was named a 2018 Tasmanian Local Hero for her efforts.
After moving to Brisbane in 2018, she brought Pinktober to the Queensland capital, doing the same job of lighting the city pink.
Then in 2021, Ms Adams started having stomach and back pain – which she attributed to sedentary work – until she lost her appetite “overnight”.
An 8 centimeter tumor had grown in his pancreas.
Now battling pancreatic cancer, Ms Adams has turned her advocacy to improving the profile of the deadly disease.
It has partnered with PanKind Australia, the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, to light Australia’s capital cities purple on World Pancreatic Cancer Day, the third Thursday in November each year, to raise awareness.
“I am now focusing my energy on a little-known disease that people often don’t even realize exists until they have a diagnosis,” Ms Adams said.
“Lighting up the landmarks is only part of the journey, people can see the pretty lights and think, ‘Oh, something’s on’ and not realize what it is.
“Even if only one person sees this and it inspires them to do something, it’s a good result, if it turns out that they detected something early.”
Pancreatic cancer is often diagnosed late in disease progression, which contributes to a survival rate of just 11.5% on average and 6% for patients in regional, rural and remote areas, says PanKind.
The disease kills almost as many people as breast cancer
PanKind Australia chief executive Michelle Stewart said the charity wanted the lighted monuments to start conversations about the disease, which has claimed almost as many lives as breast cancer last year.
“Almost 4,000 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, and 80% of patients will die within 12 months,” she said.
“It has the lowest survival rates of any major cancer type.”
Ms Stewart said fewer longer-term survivors meant pancreatic cancer remained under the radar.
“Less money raised by charities means that early-stage research doesn’t receive as much funding and therefore projects are less competitive in larger grant programs,” she said. .
“We need more national attention and increased funding for research, which is key to increasing survival rates.”
Symptoms may be “non-specific”
After being diagnosed, Ms Adams joined QIMR Berghofer’s Pathways Study, investigating early symptoms of pancreatic cancer and the symptoms that led to a diagnosis.
“So I guess my message after my diagnosis is this: I would just like people to be aware of any changes, even if they seem like unrelated symptoms, let your GP know what’s going on. in your body,” Ms. Adams said.
“The earlier you detect this, the more likely you are to survive.”
More than 80 people have completed the Pathways study to date, with an average age of 65.
Among the preliminary results, most participants experienced more than one symptom they thought was related to their diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
Abdominal pain and back pain were the most frequently reported symptoms, change in bowel habits and signs of jaundice were also among the symptoms.
Lead researcher Rachel Neal said these symptoms could be quite common, and most people who experience them are likely to have another, less serious condition.
“This is why pancreatic cancer can be difficult to diagnose – symptoms are often non-specific and can overlap with various other diseases and conditions,” she said.
“It is important that we continue to hear from patients with pancreatic cancer as part of the Pathways study, to better understand the combinations of symptoms that indicate when the pancreas should be examined for faster diagnosis.”
Alongside the research, QIMR Berghofer is running another trial, called PROcESS, which studies the impact on caregivers if they speak to a trained nurse and counselor while caring for loved ones with pancreatic cancer. , for which they still need more than 100 participants.
PanKind, as part of the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Alliance, has organized the lighting of the following locations across Australia:
New South Wales/Sydney
- Main hall of the central station
- Westconnex St Peters Interchange
- Newcastle Town Hall
- City Beach Activity Center
- The big banana
- Fed Square
- AAMI Park
- Bolte bridge and sound tube
- Kingston clock tower
- story bridge
- Victoria Bridge
- Wickham Terrace car park architectural wall
- The Breakfast Creek Bridge, Newstead
- City hall
- King George Square
- Suncorp Stadium
- Kurilpa Bridge (16-20 November)
- Southbank and Roma St Parklands
- The Queen St Mall, Wintergarden facade
- Queensland Government House
- Marine Mirage
- Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Center (13-20 November)
- UQ Saint Lucia (November 13-20)
- Sir Leo Hielscher Bridges (18-20 November)
- QPAC (to be confirmed)
- Old Parliament
- Royal Australian Mint
- Adelaide Ring (November 15)
- Parliament (November 17)
- Matagarup Bridge
- Mount Street Bridge
- Sky Ribbon
- Joondalup Drive Bridge
- North Bridge Tunnel
- Busselton Civic Center
- Bunbury Outer Harbor
- Elizabeth Quay
- HCC venues (November 14-20)
- Crowne Plaza Hobart (November 13-20)
- Parliament Fountain
- Darwin Convention Center