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Students and researchers join battle against brain cancer

Sep 5 2014

Kirsti and Scott Rickard

Kirsti and Scott Rickard will join a group of families who will release grey balloons in memory of those lost, and in support of those currently battling brain cancer, during half-time at Sunday’s Newcastle Knights game at Hunter Stadium.

The event is in support of the Mark Hughes Foundation, the charity partner for the annual Knights Old Boy’s Day.

Kirsti said that although the first Father’s Day without their dad Darren, who died in January, would be heartbreaking, her family was committed to raising awareness about a disease which kills more Australian young people than any other cancer but receives very little funding.

“Brain cancer has been the most tragic thing to have hit our family. Our dad was the centre of our universe. We hope that by raising more awareness, we can help prevent other families from being consumed by the pain that we have endured,” she said.

The Mark Hughes Foundation was founded earlier this year, following former Knights player Mark’s diagnosis with brain cancer in 2013, and funds raised will directly support brain cancer research at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI).

University of Newcastle Clinical Researcher, Dr Craig Gedye, said although brain cancer remained a frightening diagnosis, research was providing new insights that were extending and improving the lives of patients with the disease.

“We are beginning to identify the important differences and exploitable similarities between different patients’ cancers. For example, we recognise that cancers with specific mutations are better treated with more aggressive surgery, that some cancers are more susceptible to chemotherapy and that some cancers can be targeted by immune therapy drugs,” he said.

“Our region has a dedicated team of clinicians working to provide the best possible care to brain cancer sufferers. We are excited and encouraged by the work of the Mark Hughes Foundation in highlighting the importance of research and innovation in brain cancer, and for providing support to augment brain cancer research in the Hunter New England area.”

*HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.