Pancreatic cancer was the third-biggest cancer killer in Australia in 2021, and a South Windsor resident is on a mission to spread awareness after losing her father to the disease.
Gemma Healey, 23, with the support of the Bligh Park Soccer Club, hosted a Play In Purple fundraising event on the weekend of July 30 and 31, with all proceeds going to the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Foundation, also known as 'PanKind'.
All age teams wore purple socks on the day, and there were games, cakes, a BBQ, facepainting and more, to support the important work PanKind does in fostering research projects and collaborations to help people with pancreatic cancer.
According to PanKind, pancreatic cancer is "fast becoming the cancer of our generation", with only 11.5 per cent of sufferers surviving five years after being diagnosed.
Ms Healey's father, Jeffrey Gibbson, was "taken too soon" with the disease, passing away at 56 years old, less than a year after being diagnosed.
Ms Healey said her father had severe jaundice, and was taken to hospital where he was given a life expectancy of six months to two years.
This was in November 2019, a few days prior to his only daughter's 21st birthday, and he passed away the following October.
Ms Healey said: "I found out about PanKind not long after dad passed away. I didn't know anyone else who had passed away from this disease."
Last year, Ms Healey approached Bligh Park Soccer Club to help her host a fundraiser for PanKind and though it was postponed due to COVID-19, the club was more than willing to help Ms Healey raise as much money as she could for this important cause over the weekend.
Ms Healey's employer, Rachael Goldsworthy Realty, is also organsing a PanKind fundraiser for later in the year.
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Ms Healey is encouraging other people to host PanKind fundraisers and do what they can to help those with pancreatic cancer have a better shot at living a longer life.
"It's too late for our family but the more funds we raise, other families can benefit from what we've done," Ms Healey said.
Ms Healey spoke highly of her father, who was "a friend to anyone".
"He didn't care what background you came from - he treated you equally," she said.
"He would have loved the event [on the weekend] and he would have loved I was doing this not just for him but for other families going through it."
Ms Healey wants to spread the importance of early detection.
"Early detection is key. Know the signs and know it's something to be taken seriously. If we can prevent it, PanKind do amazing in trying to increase the survival rate out there," she said.
Go to https://pankind.org.au/ to donate, or find out about the range of pancreatic cancer fundraisers you can host or get involved in.
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