Flinders Medical Centre Foundation
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Meet Lynn: "Itch" and an "ache" becomes 10 year cancer battle

Tuesday, 21 March 2017 08:41

“ITCH” AND AN “ACHE” BECOMES 10 YEAR CANCER BATTLE

What began as an “itch” and an “ache” has turned into a 10 year cancer battle for Lynn Dillon.

The grandmother of six was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2007 following complaints of an "itch", and underwent surgery, radiation and five years of hormone therapy.

“After that I felt quite well, fit and healthy, and I suppose I thought that was all behind me,” Lynn says.

But in 2011, she visited her GP with a pain in her stomach she had put down to a pulled muscle. Instead they discovered carcinoid tumours which had metastasised to her liver.

“I’ve had a full hysterectomy, bladder and bowel resections and gall bladder removal. I also spent seven weeks on the cancer ward at Flinders,” Lynn says.

She’s had six courses of a rare and intense radioactive treatment called Lutate, and also attends Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer for monthly injections to keep her symptoms at bay.

“I’m up to injection number 65 now I think.”

Lynn is an advocate for listening to your body, early detection and cancer research.

“If I hadn’t followed up on the itch and then the ache in my tummy it would have been a different story,” she says.

“Without research I wouldn’t be here. They have to keep trying new things, and if it works - or even if it doesn’t - it’s a step closer to helping someone else."

Help people like Lynn by supporting the work at Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer. Make a donation here or phone (08) 8204 5216.

Caption: Lynn Dillon, 64, pictured with four of her six grandchildren, is fighting carcinoid tumours.

 

New Study: Food for thought when caring for grandchildren

Tuesday, 21 March 2017 08:24

 

The important role grandparents play in shaping their grandchildren’s eating is the subject of a new study by Flinders University researchers.

Nutrition and Dietetics researcher Dr Lucinda Bell recently received a seeding grant from Flinders Foundation to establish a program to provide grandparents with better support when caring for young children.

Dr Bell says more parents are returning to work earlier, and for longer hours, resulting in an increase in the amount of childcare provided by grandparents.

“Grandparents are an amazing and essential support for parents in the modern era,” Dr Bell says.

“They bring love to the care relationship with their grandchildren and play a valuable role in a child’s development in the early years, which is an important time for establishing healthy food preferences.”

Dr Bell says her team’s recent work in the area found that there were often generational differences in values and practices around nutrition.

“Grandparents often obey parent rules for healthy foods but occasionally treat children with sugary or fatty foods,” she says.

Dr Bell says the aim of the next part of the study is to find ways to better support grandparents - including maintaining parent-grandparent relationships around parents’ food rules, as well as methods for managing mealtimes, fussy eating and food refusal.

“We’ve carried out programs with parents on establishing good eating behaviours in young children, with promising results,” Dr Bell says.

“There’s also been programs that support grandparents caring for children in regards to child behavior problems and activity, but not in the area of nutrition. So this is a very novel study in that regard.”

Judy Fernandez (pictured below with Emily) has cared for her two grandchildren Alex, 5, and Emily 3, one day a week, since they were about one year old.

She says the pair are good eaters and are offered healthy food choices, as well as occasional treats.

“I remember my son’s lunch box would have a packet of chips and a couple of sweet biscuits in it- but now there’s a lot more awareness of healthy eating, balanced diets and things like low-sugar foods,” Judy says.

“(Alex and Emily’s) parents are very conscious of healthy eating so I try and uphold that.

“But there’s also things like chicken nuggets which are special to nanna’s house and they don’t have them at home.”

Judy says extra support would be valuable for some grandparents.

“I only look after them one day a week and some other times to help out, but I know many grandparents who do this several days a week – that’s a lot of work and a lot of responsibility which would be hard.”

Flinders Foundation recently awarded $350,000 in seeding grants to 19 Flinders University projects to allow researchers to kick-start their work and make an incredible difference in the long term.

The Nutrition and Dietetics Department is looking for grandparents who care for a grandchild at least one day a week to be involved in a brief interview for the study. To participate contact Dr Lucinda Bell at lucy.bell@flinders.edu.au

To support researchers like Dr Lucinda Bell, donate to Flinders Foundation here or contact (08) 8204 5216.


Caption: Judy Fernandez (right) cares for her granddaughter Emily, 3, one day a week.

 

Flinders Foundation Ladies Luncheon - in honour of Karen Fitzgerald

Thursday, 09 March 2017 12:40

Join us for the Flinders Foundation Ladies Luncheon in honour of Karen Fitzgerald - Founder of the Flinders Child Protection Service - to support at-risk children across South Australia.

Buy tickets at www.teamflinders.com.au/karenfitzgeraldladiesluncheon2017 or contact Flinders Foundation on (08) 8204 5216 or events@flindersfoundation.org.au. 


   

Research: Motor Neurone Disease Breakthrough

Thursday, 23 February 2017 07:45

(Pictured: Dr Mary-Louise Rogers has made a breakthrough in Motor Neurone Disease research)

 

Ground breaking, world-first research out of Flinders University has uncovered the first biomarker for Motor Neurone Disease progression - a giant step for developing better treatments, or even a cure, for the disease.

Following six years of work, Flinders University Researcher Dr Mary-Louise Rogers found that a protein in the urine of people with Motor Neurone Disease changes as the disease progresses.

This finding has been published in the prestigious journal Neurology.

Dr Rogers said the world-first discovery of this long sought after biomarker means it may now be possible to accurately determine if medications tested in clinical trials are effective.

“In the future we will be able to accurately measure if the new marker level is going up, down, or remaining stable when testing drugs in clinical trials, which will speed up the process for finding out if these drugs are working or not,” Dr Rogers said.

“This will have huge benefits for people with MND, as effective drugs for treatment may be identified much earlier than previously possible.”

A collaboration with Dr Michael Benatar from the Miami University (USA) enabled the biomarker to be tested on MND patients from both Australia (at the MND Clinic based at the Repatriation General Hospital and Flinders Medical Centre) as well as the USA.

Until now, to measure MND disease progression and effectiveness of medications, clinicians have relied mostly on a questionnaire given to patients to form a score on a functional range scale. However this process is subjective.

“What people have been looking for is something they can measure from either the blood or traditional cerebral spinal fluid method but none of the markers identified so far change with disease progression,” Dr Rogers said.

“We looked in the urine and found a particular protein that comes from nerves, and as people progress with the disease there’s more of this protein present – not only does this provide an accurate measurement but urine is easily accessible.”

Motor Neurone Disease is a rapidly progressing neurological disease for which there is currently no cure. At any point in time more than 1,400 Australians are living with MND.

This incredible discovery marks six years of hard work for Dr Rogers, and Stephanie Shepheard – whose research on this as a PhD student led to a position in the UK laboratory of Professor Dame Pam Shaw, the leading UK Neurologist and Researcher on MND. Stephanie is continuing to work on biomarkers for MND in collaboration with Flinders University.

Funded by Flinders Foundation, The ALS Association (US), MND Research Institute of Australia, and the National Institute of Health (US), Dr Rogers said this multi-continent research was a prime example of the breakthroughs seeding grants can lead to.

“Flinders Foundation’s grant helped me to start this work and generate enough data to go and present at a conference in Chicago where lots of people got involved…it just snowballed from there and this is only the beginning,” she said.

Flinders Foundation recently provided Dr Rogers with a further seeding grant to explore whether a MND biomarker also exists in the blood.

Flinders Foundation Chief Executive Officer Amanda Shiell said seeding grants provided researchers with the opportunity to make an incredible difference in the long term.

“Flinders Foundation is investing in the research of today to help researchers drive the breakthroughs of tomorrow.  Our seed funding program is a critical pathway for advancing research in South Australia,” Amanda said.

To support researchers like Mary-Louise Rogers to make the breakthroughs of tomorrow, donate to Flinders Foundation here or contact (08) 8204 5216.

 

Finding My Way - New online self-help program for cancer patients

Wednesday, 22 February 2017 07:16

(Flinders University Researcher and Clinical Psychologist at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, Dr Lisa Beatty)

 

A new online self-help program will help to reduce distress for patients diagnosed with cancer.

Developed by researchers from Flinders University and the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, Finding My Way is the only program of its kind and can be accessed by people newly diagnosed with all types of cancers, right around the world.

Researcher and Clinical Psychologist at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, Dr Lisa Beatty (pictured), says the free program takes the most common issues people with cancer experience during diagnosis, treatment and recovery, and gives them strategies to manage these on their own.

“When people are diagnosed with cancer they can experience a range of emotions, including shock, anger, guilt, uncertainty and feeling overwhelmed,” Dr Beatty says.

“People may feel they have no idea how to navigate the path ahead – so Finding My Way is really about mapping out that path.”

The program focuses on six key areas of physical and mental wellbeing: Managing what’s happening in the initial stages of a diagnosis including communication with the treatment team; physical symptoms and side effects including pain and nausea; emotional distress; identity and role changes; managing support networks and supporting loved ones; and transitioning to life after cancer.

Trialled in a national study across six hospitals, the study found that this early intervention tool improved patient’s ability to function with and manage their distress, and also reduced the need for patients to access other health services such as psychologists, counsellors, dieticians, naturopaths, physiotherapists, and chiropractors.

As a result, researchers in Germany, Prague and Harvard University in Boston are now adapting and trialling Finding My Way for their own cancer care programs.

It is estimated more than 130,000 people in Australia were diagnosed with cancer last year.

“We know that up to 40 per cent of people with cancer experience distress following their diagnosis, and of those, only 29 per cent will actually access help – so that’s a big gap,” Dr Beatty says.

“People are often reluctant to seek help and there’s a stigma about seeing a psychologist - there’s also people who live in remote and regional areas who simply aren’t able to access help.

“This program is private, anonymous, and a convenient way of getting some help without seeing someone face-to-face.

“It aims to promote and facilitate adjustment and coping, and we know that it works in preventing things from escalating.”

To access the Finding My Way visit www.findingmyway.org.au

Flinders Foundation is proud to support Finding My Way. To support people with cancer and their families, make a donation here or phone (08) 8204 5216

   

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