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Tag: community

Professor Anna Nowak tells us what being a mum means to her

Having a busy working life and kids has meant that my time is either work or family, there’s not much ‘me’ time. Even though the weeks and weekday evenings are busy with work, I ‘down tools’ on the weekend and spend time doing what all mums do. So I get pretty grumpy if I have any fixed work commitments on the weekend as I consider it to be family time, now spending time with my older parents too.

My kids are 17 and 21 now, so although they are extremely independent, I’m still called on for ‘adulting’ lessons on a regular basis, and to pay for petrol and read essays. As my kids have got older, it has been a wonderful thing to see them achieving excellence where I have no ability at all. My son is a triathlete and a wonderful clarinet player. My daughter is a talented artist and can speak and write mandarin Chinese. I can’t do any of those things, and it’s such a thrill to see them doing things I could never hope to do!  

As a role model for my kids, I hope to show them what self-mastery, service, compassion, and integrity look like. Nobody in our family is perfect, but I’m glad they’ve both inherited my work ethic.

Anna Nowak

Anna also has a beautiful role model – to some Emeritus Professor Margaret Nowak, but to Anna, ‘Mum’.

Reflections’ Lizz Clarke speaks with 7 News

Be safe, be asbestos aware!

Our Support Network Coordinator, Lizz Clarke, speaks with 7 News about why she is invested in reducing the impact of asbestos and mesothelioma on the community.

End of an Era for the Bernie Banton Foundation

We would like to acknowledge the tireless efforts of Karen Banton-Smith and Rod Smith over the past eleven years as they have supported sufferers and increased awareness of the ongoing risk of asbestos to the community.

“I founded the Bernie Banton Foundation in June 2009, for only one reason, to uphold what Bernie believed in; to assist people to navigate the difficult journey an asbestos-related disease diagnosis presents; to enable people to have informed choice about specialist dust litigators and medical professionals; to prevent people being exposed to asbestos dust/fibres by creating awareness of mesothelioma asbestos cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases, and to advocate for, and to be the voice of reason for Australian asbestos-related disease sufferers, their carers and loved ones, allied health and care providers, and to the wider community.”

Karen Banton-Smith, Founder of Bernie Banton Foundation

The Reflections Board acknowledges the support Rod and Karen have provided to Reflections since its founding. Since attending our official launch in Perth, Western Australia in November 2015, our organisations have shared a common desire – a future with lives untouched by asbestos.

“Karen Banton, myself and the Bernie Banton Foundation’s Board of Directors would like to thank all those who have supported the Foundation via donating, fundraising and sponsorship over the last eleven years. Without your support, the Foundation could not have provided its’ asbestos-related disease support and patient advocacy services, and asbestos awareness and education it has become widely recognised for across Australia and New Zealand. Every dollar donated, fundraised, sponsored or given in kind has helped and meant a lot – we are truly grateful.”

Rod Smith, Awareness & Support Coordinator at Bernie Banton Foundation

The Bernie Banton Foundation website, now renamed as simply the Bernie Banton website, is being independently continued and maintained by Karen and Rod as a voluntary community service. It remains an invaluable resource which we encourage you to utilise should you have questions about mesothelioma asbestos cancer, other asbestos-related diseases, supportive care options, and asbestos and its’ effect on the community.

We wish both Karen and Rod all the best as the next chapter of their lives begin.

The Reflections Team

Cracking the code to cancer immunotherapy

Through the generous contributions of our community, in 2018 Reflections donated funds to support a Postdoctoral Fellowship through Cancer Council WA under the supervision of Dr Jonathan Chee. We recently received an update on the progress of the study Cracking the Code to Cancer Immunotherapy and this is what we have to share with you.

When asked what the most significant achievement was, Dr Chee responded saying that he collected tumours from animals that responded well to immunotherapy and completed key experiments that generated a robust data set. With the dataset, Dr Chee is able to use new mathematical tools to interrogate how changes in the immune system can predict immunotherapy outcomes. The two research aims for the study, which have both been partially achieved, are:

  • Developing novel immune biomarkers of responses to immunotherapy in mesothelioma, and
  • Developing a personalised therapeutic vaccine targeting mutated cancer antigens.

Aim 1 has been successful in demonstrating that immunotherapy outcomes are reliant upon the dynamic changes that occur in the immune system within a tumour before and after treatment. Detecting possible predictors of immunotherapy responses have been established through the development of new mathematical methods. This study is also in the process of being extended to patient blood samples from a recently completed clinical trial.

As for aim 2, they have found that vaccine targeting cancer mutations were not able to protect from tumour growth. Therefore, they are focussing on how to improve vaccine strategies.

Dr Chee has been successful throughout the research, involving being promoted to Level B, Step 1 at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and was selected as a mentor for top-scoring undergraduate students. This was under the UWA Fogarty Scholarship Mentoring Scheme, which started in July 2019 and ends in July 2020. Dr Chee has also formed a new collaboration with two Professors from the University of Pennsylvania. They have utilised novel analytical tools they developed to study immunosequencing data derived from melanoma patients that underwent personalised vaccination.

Dr Chee and his students have presented their results to the general public through their annual community forum, and to members of the Ban Asbestos Network and the Asbestos Victims Association (South Australia).

Dr Jonathan Chee and his team

*All information was sourced from the Cancer Council WA Fellowship Progress / Final Report