The future begins now. Let's make it a cancer free one

Posted 5 Feb 2020.

Professor George Yeoh in his lab

"Research is the most powerful tool we have to combat cancer. It's why I chose to dedicate my career to research - to help find the answers we need for a cancer free future." - Professor George Yeoh, pictured above in his lab

After leaving medical school to pursue a career in medical research, I soon learnt that funding was the key to getting my research off the ground. Cancer Council WA supported me with the funding I needed to start unlocking answers.

And this support was only possible thanks to the generosity of Western Australians, just like you.

My research focussed on stem cells within the liver, which are used to regenerate and repair the liver when it's damaged. There are only a few of these cells, so if they are asked to work too hard they can accumulate mutations that can lead to hepatocellular carcinoma.

In what was a world-first discovery, my team recognised that large numbers of these cells in the liver signals that a person is more likely to develop liver cancer. This signal is being developed to improve diagnosis and prognosis in liver disease patients all over the world. And it all started here, in Western Australia.

Over the last six years during my time as President of Cancer Council WA and Chair of the Board, I have witnessed how amazing breakthroughs can be achieved when people like you donate.

In late 2019 I retired as President and Chair of the Board, a voluntary position I was proud to hold. As my career nears its end, I now look to the upcoming generation of researchers to show the same determination to find the missing pieces of the cancer puzzle. But they can do little without adequate funding.

Professor George Yeoh with his Cancer Council WA funded microscope

Professor George Yeoh, with the $7000 microscope he received thanks to Cancer Council WA funding in 1977.

My first real grant and my first piece of equipment came from Cancer Council WA - I received $7,000 in 1977 and that kept me here in WA. It set me on the path to making breakthroughs.

Unfortunately, I know first-hand the impact that cancer has on families. When my wife, Valerie, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, the doctors warned that the prognosis was poor.

It is thanks to past researchers, and the incredible breakthroughs they have made, that Valerie's still with us today. She recently celebrated five years in remission.

Professor George Yeoh with his wife, Val

Professor George Yeoh with his wife, Valerie.

But more breakthroughs are still needed, and until no other families hear the words "you have cancer", work will not stop.

With the support of generous community members, just like you, every year Cancer Council WA provides funding grants to researchers at all stages of their careers.

Without this funding, many researchers may not be able to continue the vital research we so desperately need.

My career began with one of these Cancer Council WA grants.

Thanks to Cancer Council WA funding, my lab is working to better understand how liver cancer develops - knowledge that I'm proud to say will improve diagnosis, detection and treatment of liver cancer, right here in Western Australia and across the world.

But there is still so much to do.

In addition to hepatocellular carcinoma, there are more than 200 different kinds of cancer, each with its own name and treatment options. This is why we cannot stop. We need to continue to fund our world-class local researchers. To improve diagnosis, detection and treatment for every cancer.

When you donate to cancer research, you give more than just hope. You give potential for the next piece of the cancer puzzle to be uncovered. For a potential cure to be discovered.

Your gift today could be tomorrow's breakthrough.

- Professor George Yeoh, former Cancer Council WA President, current Board member


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Found in:  News - 2020 | View all news