Jimboomba local 11-year-old Lucy Newman and her mum Julie will both spend this Christmas fighting cancer.
While most families are opening presents on Christmas morning – Lucy and Julie will be fighting for both their lives – together.
In 2013, Lucy, nine, was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukaemia and earlier this year Julie was given the news that she had thyroid cancer.
Each treatment, each operation, and each setback have been harrowing for the close-knit family.
Lucy was diagnosed in 2013 and since then has endured 17 operations and chemotherapy treatment with severe side effects.
Now 11, Lucy continues to undergo treatment, missing out on many of the joys of childhood.
Julie said it was the simple things in life that Lucy missed most like going to school, playing with her friends, dogs and chickens.
“It was awful, watching her go through chemotherapy and trying to hold her hand because it was really painful,” Mrs Newman said.
“Sometimes she would say “I can’t breathe”, and sometimes she would just scream in pain.
“From day one, you just wish you had got it and not her. She said, “Why? I wouldn’t want you to have it.” And I’d say, “No, of course not – but it would be easier for your father and me to go through it, rather than watch you go through it.”
After two years of pain and uncertainty Lucy will finish treatment next April. Doctors have given her an 85 per cent chance of survival.
In a bid to fight back, Cancer Council Queensland is funding the work of Professor Tom Gonda from The University of Queensland, which could lead to better leukaemia treatment with less harsh side effects.
In the course of this research, Professor Gonda has found that for certain types of leukaemia to develop, there needs to be an interaction between the MYB protein and a protein called P300.
His focus now is to develop a drug that will block this interaction and stop leukaemia cells from growing.
“As they say: a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. We’ve taken at least the first step by showing the interaction between MYB and P300 is needed for leukaemia to develop,” Prof Gonda said.
“And now, what we’re going to do with the Cancer Council funding is try to identify small molecules that can block the interaction.
“Once we do that, we can look at developing a drug that will prevent the cancer cells from growing.”
Research like Prof Gonda’s has the potential to develop better treatment options for cancers like leukaemia.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said with the help of all Queenslanders this Christmas, Cancer Council could continue funding lifesaving work such as Prof Gonda’s.
“We’re calling on Queenslanders to show they care by helping us to beat cancer this Christmas.
“All donations will go towards potentially lifesaving research and support for families like Lucy’s,” Ms Clift said.
“No child or family should have to spend Christmas fighting cancer.
“Each donation will help light up the lives of Queenslanders like Lucy, giving back to more than 25,000 Queenslanders affected by cancer each year.”
Donate to Cancer Council Queensland’s Christmas Appeal at cancerqld.org.au or call 1300 663 936.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available on 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland
Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171