Locals drive new awareness fight

By Vanessa Wiltshire

KNOWLEDGE and awareness of pancreatic cancer is low, particularly in regional and rural areas including Heathcote.

There are about 3360 new cases diagnosed in Australia each year. By 2030 pancreatic cancer is expected to become the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. It’s a devastating disease that touches men and women equally.

But it’s not spoken about enough.

This is something the Heathcote community is setting out to change.

Rhonda Linnell from the Heathcote Post Office, whose cousin’s husband (Ian Kelly) died from the disease in 2018, has co-ordinated two recent fundraising campaigns on behalf of the Pancare Foundation.

‘‘By 2020, pancreatic cancer will be the second highest cause of Australian cancer deaths behind lung cancer,’’ she said.

‘‘But there is hope. Studies suggest the immune system can be manipulated to make the body less resistant to standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.

‘‘If there is anyone in the community dealing with pancreatic cancer, please come and talk to me at the Post Office. I will put you directly in touch with someone at Pancare. You’re not alone.’’

The Pancare Foundation is a Not-For-Profit organisation which undertakes clinical research into pancreatic and related cancers including liver, biliary, oesophageal and stomach cancer.

A benefit dinner was held at Fodder in aid of Pancare on Saturday, March 30. The event was sponsored by Heathcote Post Office and Newsagency, Fodder and Silver Spoon Estate.

With a silent auction, door prizes, magnificent food and wine, tickets sold out quickly.

In total, $2762 was raised.

Kathy Kelly, Rhonda’s cousin, spoke movingly about her husband’s illness.

She talked about her experience of supporting someone with a terminal illness and the vital role Pancare played in supporting them.

Kathy expressed her deep appreciation to the community of Heathcote, and how supportive they have been of Pancare through fundraising activities.

The Easter raffle was drawn on the night with first prize going to Margaret Dickinson of Tooborac who won the stunning quilt, donated and made by Liz Allen.

Second prize went to K and R Morey of Port Fairy; third prize went to Jenny Sheehan; fourth prize to Dinah Finn; fifth prize to Margaret Bakker and sixth prize to Bob McElroy.