It was a privilege to participate in activities and awareness-raising for World Cancer Day last week. This year’s theme, Together all of our actions matter, is a message particularly relevant for our alliance and these times and circumstances. It suggests a shared vision and requires empathy and a passion to change the trajectory of health for humanity. Ultimately, it encourages us to stand in solidarity, despite our differences.
Genomics-driven personalised care
To acknowledge World Cancer Day, Peter Mac patient Vicky Morrison, Dr Belinda Lee, Dr Stephen Luen and Dr Richard Tothill came together for a special presentation to explain how patients, clinicians, and researchers interact in treatment decisions guided by genomic profiling.
The special event, Six weeks with my biopsy – a story of cancer and genomics presented the opportunity to talk about the exciting new developments made possible through the University of Melbourne Centre for Cancer Research and Illumina partnership, explain some of the science around next-generation genome sequencing, and showcase the extraordinary depth of data analysis and ‘people power’ required to progress cancer outcomes in Victoria. A special shout out to Vicky, who made a trip into the VCCC building for the recording after being in for treatment at Peter Mac the day before. If you missed it, you can watch it now on our website.
Acknowledgement of cancer consumer advocates and representatives
Last month's Order of Australia Honours list recognised some people who may be familiar to readers of Alliance. I’ve been fortunate to work alongside Jay Allen on many occasions. Jay is a melanoma survivor and advocate who has spent more than a decade promoting sun safety and skin checks leading to national policy change, and also raising funds for Melanoma research. I was really pleased for Jay, aka @MelanomaMan, who received a well-deserved Medal of the Order of Australia.
This month is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month so it was great to see the timely acknowledgement of Paula Benson who received a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). Paula was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 34, and following her treatment, joined the board of Ovarian Cancer Australia (OCA) in 2007. She served as Chair during an era of significant achievements, among them, Australia’s first National Action Plan for Ovarian Cancer. 2021 marks 20 years of improving support and awareness for ovarian cancer.
Meg Rynderman, is a member of the VCCC Survivorship Conference Steering Committee, a consumer representative for Peter Mac and the Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre (ACSC), and volunteers for Cancer Council Victoria’s Cancer Connect Program. Meg is well known about the VCCC and Peter Mac for her commitment to improving the cancer journey for others. It is terrific to be able to acknowledge her commitment and efforts as ACSC and VCCC teams embark on preparations this month for the 4th Victorian Cancer Survivorship Conference to be held in Melbourne in March 2022.
VCCC Strategic Program Plan
Behind the scenes since last year, momentum has been building with many in our VCCC community developing and refining the goals and objectives that will lead into the next phase of VCCC Strategic Program Planning.
In December, we invited expressions of interest for steering group members and co-chairs to bring forward the 10 draft programs in line with the recently announced Victoria state budget and to support their implementation over the next three and a half years.
The desire to be involved in the strategic direction of the VCCC has been simply phenomenal, with well over 300 submissions from metro and regional Victoria. Applications came from 35 different institutions from right across the alliance and the broader cancer sector. For the first time, more women than men applied, and consumer interest is at a new high.
We are busy working through these to ensure multidisciplinary representation and diverse expert perspectives across all the 10 programs. We are almost there. I am looking forward to sharing who the co-chairs and steering group members will be via an announcement on our website in the next day or two.
As this week wraps up, we bid the VCCC SKILLED 2021 Study Coordinator Interns farewell as they embark on placements to build their skills and knowledge in clinical trial units throughout Victoria. This terrific program is coordinated by the VCCC and Parkville Cancer Clinical Trials Unit in partnership with MTPConnect, Victoria State Government Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) and Bristol Myers-Squibb, and is well supported by senior clinical trials professionals statewide.
Prof Grant McArthur