23 August 2018
Two years ago, popular fashion and entertainment reporter Elle Halliwell received life changing news—she was living with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML). Just 48 hours later she received another shock—she was pregnant with her first child.
Doctors presented her with heartbreaking advice and told her to terminate her pregnancy to give her the best chance of survival.
She and her husband Nick Biasotto turned to Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project Chair, Professor Tim Hughes and his team in South Australia, who are leaders in CML research. With their help, she began a course of treatment that was safe to take during pregnancy and saw her give birth in December 2016 to a beautiful baby boy.
Two years on, Elle is a proud mother to Tor Felix Biasotto and is teaming up with Professor Hughes to show her support for Cancer Council’s Daffodil Day, which this year is raising money to fund vital cancer research.
Elle knows first-hand just how important cancer research is. Two years since her initial diagnosis, she is on tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) treatment which was pioneered by Professor Hughes and his team based at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), which receives support from the Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project.
The treatment has successfully lowered her leukaemia marker levels (BCR-ABL) to only 0.0045, a significant reduction from results of around 0.15 towards the end of her pregnancy.
“Daffodil Day is such an important public awareness campaign— and one that directly impacts outcomes for patients by enabling Cancer Council to continue its vital work,” said Elle.
“For example, 10–15 years ago, the cancer that I have was considered a death sentence. Thanks to research, I now have access to a life-saving drug.”
“The things that researchers like Professor Hughes have done for people living with this illness is incredible. He’s testament that, with support from the public, research like his can change people’s lives.”
As one of Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project Research Chairs, Professor Hughes’s research has been funded by Cancer Council SA since 2013.
He is currently leading a global trial of a promising new therapy for CML, with results to be released later this year.
“Without community support, we simply wouldn’t be able to lead ground-breaking trials like this right here in South Australia,” he said.
“Daffodil Day is a really important day for myself and the other Beat Cancer Project researchers. The continuity of funding we receive from Cancer Council’s generous supporters is crucial in enabling us to do our work and help people like Elle with the best possible cutting-edge treatment.”
“My message to South Australians this Daffodil Day is to get involved—the simple act of buying a daffodil or making a donation online enables us to continue our vital work which will ultimately save future lives.”
Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project is a flagship research collaboration between Cancer Council SA, the State Government, SAHMRI and the Universities. Since it started in 2011, the Project has funded more than 200 individual research projects across a range of cancers including bowel, breast, prostate and melanoma.
All the money raised in South Australia this Daffodil Day will go towards funding Cancer Council’s Beat Cancer Project and researchers like Professor Hughes.
Cancer Council SA Chief Executive Lincoln Size said that Professor Hughes is testament that, through community support, researchers are able to make breakthroughs that change lives.
“Over the past 20 years, more than 61,000 Australian lives have been saved by improvements in cancer prevention, screening and treatment as a result of cancer research which has seen us get closer to a cancer free future than ever before. The money you donate, however big or small, will help us make that future a reality.”
There are many ways to support Daffodil Day on Friday, 24 August. For more information or to get involved, visit www.daffodilday.com.au or call 1300 65 65 85.