Growing up, Helen was twice diagnosed with osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer). Helen was the beneficiary of a clinical trial of a new treatment, which she said saved her life.
“The tumours were primary cancers, which is very rare. I took part in a clinical trial as part of my treatment the second time around. It involved Colony Stimulating Factors (CFSs), which stimulate stem cells to help my body cope with the high dose of chemotherapy I was receiving. This treatment was the result of research done by Professor Don Metcalfe who discovered CSFs that have now saved the lives of over 20 million people world-wide. ”
A gift left in a Will to Cancer Council Victoria allowed us to begin funding the work of the late Professor Metcalf in 1954. Professor Metcalf’s tireless dedication led to a breakthrough discovery – he identified hormones, later referred to as Colony Stimulating Factors, that could trigger the production of white blood cells in bone marrow.
White cells defend the body from infection, but become severely depleted in cancer patients on chemotherapy, leaving them vulnerable to serious, sometimes fatal conditions. Finding a way to offset this was a major leap forward in improving how a person responds to chemotherapy. Colony Stimulating Factors have been used in life-saving cancer treatments all around the world, benefitting more than 20 million people.