A group of gutsy explorers have conquered Tasmania’s wilderness in the name of cancer research.
As part of the Gutsy Overland Challenge, two groups of eight set out to complete a more than 60 kilometre journey involving some of Tasmania’s most iconic walks.
The six day challenge was held in support of the Australiasian Gastro-Intestinal Trials Group, which raises funds and awareness for cancer research and clinical trials.
For participant Ruth Nissim of Sydney – who at 57 is the same age her sister Rochelle was when she died of pancreatic cancer – the opportunity to challenge herself for a good cause was excuse enough to visit the Apple Isle.
“The walk was fantastic, but it was tough,” she said.
“But that is why you do something gutsy like this isn't it – to get out of your comfort zone.”
In Australia, the five year survival rate for people with pancreatic cancer is less than 9 per cent and by 2030, the disease is projected to be the second leading cause of all cancer related deaths.
Following the death of her sister, Ms Nissim and her family established the #PurpleOurWorld organisation, with the goal of raising awareness for a disease often referred to as the silent killer.
With Thursday World Pancreatic Cancer Day, Ms Nissim said the disease’s low survival rate meant there was often no voice for awareness.
“Unlike many other diseases, quite often there are no survivors of pancreatic cancer to talk about it,” she said.
“Rochelle was always the person who looked at the positive side of things, and now that she is gone we want to be her voice in continuing to raise awareness.
“We wanted to focus on making her death meaningful and helping others.”
Joining Ms Nissim on the walk was Newcastle-based oncologist Stephen Ackland.
The director of the Hunter Cancer Research Alliance and a member of the GI Cancer committee, professor Ackland said progress in immunotherapies was a positive step towards pancreatic cancer treatments.
“With a lot of clinical trials, it often feels like we are melting an iceberg with a box of matches,” he said.
“For the past 30 years we have been making steady progress with most cancers.
“All research involves investments in trials and then studies to then test the ideas.
“The progress that is being made, the outlook is starting to feel more positive.”