2019 – improved prognosis for pancreatic cancer

The aim of the lab’s pancreatic cancer research is to improve survival from pancreatic cancer, including by better identifying patients who would benefit from pancreatic surgery.

In 2018, a study with first author, surgeon and PhD scholar, Dr Chris Nahm (pictured left), reported factors associated with the development of postoperative pancreatic fistula, a complication of pancreatic cancer surgery. This knowledge will assist in the identification and close monitoring of patients who may be at increased risk of this complication.
In 2019, Chris Nahm and team published a panel of markers that accurately stratified patients according to survival after pancreatic cancer surgery. This panel will assist the surgeons identify patients who would benefit from pancreatic surgery from those who would not benefit significantly from surgery. The amazing fundraising efforts of Sandy Eglin (pictured right) enabled the lab to buy new equipment to undertake research to translate this panel of markers from a tissue test to a blood test.

The Bill Walsh Lab would welcome your support in fundraising for vital cancer research. For fundraising ideas and assistance, please contact Lorena from the Kolling Foundation on +612 99264904.

Link to 2018 research paper

Link to 2019 research paper abstract

Sandy’s Story (Dec 2018)

On Wednesday the 22nd October 2014, I was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer Stage IIB. This was devastating news as I had just returned from a family holiday to celebrate my remission from breast cancer which I had beat earlier in the year. I underwent a Whipple’s operation by Dr Jaswinder Samra in November 2014 to remove the head of my pancreas, my gall bladder, 10% of my stomach, 30cm of my bowel and the majority of my biliary tree. Shortly after my discharge from hospital, I was commenced on six months of chemotherapy under the guidance of Medical Oncologist Dr Nick Pavlakis. At this point, I remained positive and my main goal was to be in remission. I was incredibly grateful to achieve this for 18 months. However, there was always a cloud over my head that the cancer would return due to the aggressive nature of the disease. Throughout this remission period, my family and I spent as much quality time together as we could, for example holidaying to Hawaii, climbing the Harbour Bridge, and relaxing by the beach. I was then diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer in November 2017 when Dr Nick Pavlakis revealed to me that the cancer had spread into my right lung, my spine and my right rib. A double dose of gemcitabine and abraxane chemotherapy was commenced, and ever since then I have been having treatment – constantly changing to try and stop the cancer spreading. I believe I am one of the lucky ones. One year ago when I was told that the cancer was back, there is no way I thought that I would be standing here with you all. Everyday I get out of bed is a miracle, however that does not mean it is easy. Starting the day is often difficult; I wake up feeling nauseous, drained, exhausted, pain, and all the other symptoms that are a result of my treatment and cancer. Even trying to keep a small meal down is hard, as most of the time I don’t feel like eating at all. Dealing with all of this can be incredibly tough, however my love for my three kids and my husband Kim helps me to fight through every day. I have 2 daughters Olivia (who is 23) and Madeline (who is 20), and 1 son Nicholas (who is 18). Seeing their smiling faces every morning makes fighting this battle worth it. Don’t get me wrong, this is the hardest thing I have ever had to face, but I confide in Dr Nick Pavlakis and my supportive family and friends knowing I have to put up my best fight.

My relationship with Dr Nick Pavlakis began in 2014, I have been attending appointments with him ever since. He and his team have helped me through my journey, and never made me feel alone. He has always explained everything thoroughly, and is always willing to answer all of my questions regarding my treatment and my cancer. He always remains positive, and tells me about new treatment options that are being discovered for metastatic pancreatic cancer. The team of medical oncologists and cancer researchers at the Bill Walsh Cancer Research Lab work together to fast-track discoveries into clinical practice. The focus is on increasing understanding of cancer biology, identifying better ways to diagnose and predict how a cancer will behave, and improving cancer treatment for better outcomes for cancer patients. There is no doubt that without the immense amounts of hard work and research conducted by Dr Nick Pavlakis and his colleagues, I would not be alive today.

Thank you.


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