Media Release - Support for brave teacher to tackle Australia's biggest cancer killer

Media Release - Support for brave teacher to tackle Australia's biggest cancer killer

THE HON KEN WYATT AM MP

Federal Member for Hasluck

Minister for Indigenous Australians

MEDIA RELEASE

9 October 2019

SUPPORT FOR BRAVE TEACHER TO TACKLE AUSTRALIA’S BIGGEST CANCER KILLER

Federal Member for Hasluck, Ken Wyatt has walked the final stages of the Bibbulmun Track with a much-loved high school teacher and mother of 4, Carolyn Riordan.

Ms Riordan set out to complete one of the world’s great long-distance treks in honour of her late father and to raise vital funds for Australia’s biggest cancer killer.

Ms Riordan, who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer last year, finished the Bibbulmun trek and raised $20,000 for Lung Foundation Australia in the process.

Her efforts to complete the walk with a partially collapsed lung have attracted the attention of local politicians due to the startling statistics of the burden of lung cancer in Australia.

“Lung cancer is this nation’s biggest cancer killer. Mortality rates and five-year survivorship are considerably worrying when compared to other commonly diagnosed cancers,” Mr Wyatt said.

“As the decision makers for our country we have a responsibility and commitment to the people living with health conditions such as lung cancer to ensure that we come together and discuss these issues.

“Together we need to ensure that stigma and misinformation are no longer a barrier to improving patient outcomes and quality of life.”

The stigma associated with lung cancer impacts on the level of research funding and support available for the 12,500 Australians diagnosed each year.

“Carolyn’s walk has allowed us to shine a light on an often-discriminated disease. People with lung cancer are not given a fair go in terms of research to match the burden of disease,” Lung Foundation Australia CEO Mark Brooke said.

“There is a stigma that this disease is associated with smoking when in fact, like Carolyn, 20% of people living with lung cancer are life-long non-smokers.

“We know that research improves outcomes – through sustained investment in focused research, we have seen incredible advancements in treatment improve survival rates for other cancers such as breast and ovarian in the past 25 years. But because of this stigma, lung cancer struggles to attract adequate government funding to support research into better treatment and support.

“Passionate advocates like Carolyn are carrying the torch of hope for a brighter future. Since being diagnosed last year, Carolyn has been fearless in her approach to tackle the stigma associated with lung cancer and her story has touched the hearts and minds of the many people who have followed her on this journey.”

Carolyn was diagnosed with lung cancer in the week of Mother’s Day in 2018 – a devastating disease that kills an Australian every hour.

“I didn’t think it was possible for me to get lung cancer. I had never smoked and my exposure to passive smoke was minimal. Yet in 2018, the impossible became possible. All I ever had was a dry cough,” Carolyn said.

“I would love to see a cure for lung cancer but for this to happen Aussie’s must change how they think. The Australian public are beginning, at last, to talk about lung cancer. The landscape is changing for the better.”

Completing the Bibbulmun Track was both a fitting tribute to her late father, Peter Hewett, who worked in the Forests Department back in 1972, and an honourable way to raise awareness for a worthy cause.

To support Carolyn’s fundraiser, visit https://lungfoundation.grassrootz.com/shine-a-light-on-lung-cancer/bibbulmun-track-ihavelungs-walk

 

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MEDIA CONTACTS

Minister Wyatt: Sebastian Rosati – Sebastian.Rosati@aph.gov.au or 9359 0322

Lung Foundation: Paxton Roth – paxtonr@lungfoundation.com.au 07 3251 3654