THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD Bellerive resident Evelyn Hicks joined this year’s Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation’s Remember September campaign to raise money in remembrance of her grandfather – or “poppy” – who passed away from the disease in 2012.
During Remember September, Evelyn only drank water – giving up smoothies and Milo to help give people with pancreatic cancer a fighting chance.
“It was hard at times when I had to say no to things, but most definitely worth it,” Evelyn said.
“The cause is so important because it is highly diagnosed and rarely cured – it deserves more attention than it gets.”
In 2012, Evelyn’s poppy passed away from pancreatic cancer and she has since made it her mission to raise awareness and funds for the Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.
“It was really hard knowing that with more funding maybe he [Evelyn’s poppy] may have had a chance – I don’t want other families to have to go through that,” Evelyn said.
“I am hoping that one day if someone is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, they will have a high chance of survival.”
Evelyn raised $546 in what was her second year of the challenge, making the total tally she has raised for the Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation more than $1,500.
The Remember September campaign encourages people to give up all liquids except for water for a whole month and was the brainchild of brothers David and Ben Wilheim, who lost their father to pancreatic cancer in 2014 – a year after their cousin Danielle, aged 33, also fell victim just six weeks past diagnosis.
“Pancreatic cancer caused so much anguish for my family,” David Wilheim said.
“We were astounded at the dire statistics around this disease and realised something needed to be done.
“The challenge gives you an opportunity to talk to your networks – to help raise much-needed funds and awareness for this terrible disease.”
Now in its fifth year, the Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation’s Remember September campaign was held in all major capital cities, as well as regional centres around Australia, raising more than $53,000.
To date, Remember September has raised more than $230,000 in total.
“The campaign focuses on positive lifestyle changes and keeping healthy, but people take the challenge for different reasons, not just to raise awareness and funding for vital research, but for personal reasons,” Mr Wilheim said.
“I like that we can give that to all Australians.”
Pancreatic cancer is predicted to be the second biggest cancer killer in Australia in coming years, with the disease currently claiming virtually the same amount of lives as breast cancer.
The Foundation’s chief executive officer Michelle Stewart said raising funds was vital for investing into research to improve health outcomes.
“The five-year survival rate for the disease is very low at 9.8 per cent compared to other cancers, which now exceed 90 per cent survival,” she said.
“The disease receives little or no government funding, so we are desperate to raise more funds through alternative means to continue funding the best researchers in Australia.”
For more information, visit www.rememberseptember.gofundraise.com.au.
Caption: Thirteen-year-old Evelyn Hicks, pictured above right, has been taking the fight to pancreatic cancer in remembrance of her grandfather who passed away in 2012. Pictured left, a young Evelyn with her “poppy”.