Jodi's march for the Malaghan
A year ago I had an appointment with my doctor. I had
finished eight rounds of chemo (or so I thought) for Hodgkins Lymphoma and I
was due to start radiotherapy in two days.
The doctor told me there was some bad news - the chemo
hadn’t worked, there were new tumours growing in my chest cavity. She said I
would need “salvage chemo” and if that went OK then I could have high dose
chemo and a stem cell (bone marrow) transplant to save my life. Then she said
in an upbeat way “you still have a 50% chance”.
50 percent chance of dying didn’t sound like very good odds
to me. My boys were two and four years old at the time. I remember thinking
that Xavier, my youngest, might not even remember me.
Anyway, I am delighted to say that I finished 15 months of
treatment a few weeks ago and my latest scan showed that I am cancer free –
I’m obviously over the moon to not currently be dying. I’m
feeling great! However to quote Rocky Balboa “the world ain’t all sunshine and
rainbows”. The extreme treatment that I underwent has left me with scar tissue
in my lungs, my liver isn’t working properly yet, I have ‘acute ovarian
failure’ and I currently have a hairdo reminiscent of David Hasselhoff in
So I decided that I really want to do something to support
the new, exciting and less toxic cancer treatments on the horizon. I also want to make something positive out of my
misfortune and to celebrate the end (hopefully) of my treatment.
With that in mind, I am going to do a 24km trek from
Paekakariki to my home to raise money for the Malaghan Institute of Medical
Research here in Wellington. The Malaghan is doing research to help the immune
system better recognise and respond to cancer cells, with an aim to create
gentler, more effective cancer treatments. The Malaghan is a registered
charity, and they have the noble goal of creating better, lower cost treatments.
Jodi’s march for the Malaghan
On Saturday 12 February, I am going to walk the c.25
kilometres from Paekakariki, to my home in Whitby, via the Escarpment Track and
I am asking my friends and family to join me on the walk,
and/or to sponsor and donate to the Malaghan Institute via my fundraising page.
For those keen on joining me, please note the 10km
Escarpment Track (also known as the ‘stairway to heaven’) is challenging. It
has some really steep terrain and isn’t suitable for small children.
To find out more join my Facebook Event page here - https://facebook.com/events/s/jodis-march-for-the-malaghan/629449278241427/
Why the Malaghan?
One doctor told me that in the future the treatment I’ve
been through will be considered barbaric. Of particular interest and relevance
to me, the Malaghan Institute are doing clinical trials on ‘CAR T-cell therapy’
on otherwise terminal lymphoma patients. Basically with CAR T-cell therapy,
they take some immune cells from a lymphoma patient, genetically modify the
cells to tell them to fight the cancer cells, and then inject them back in to
the patient. The results from clinical trials around the world are amazing and CAR
T-cell therapy has the potential to fundamentally transform cancer treatment.