For Elizabeth, research means other families touched by lung cancer may have more time with their loved ones.
When Elizabeth’s mum, Ellen Yates, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2014, her family’s world was turned upside down. Elizabeth (Liz), a nurse, was shocked when she learnt the heart-breaking statistics about lung cancer and how little funding is invested in research. Since losing her loving mother to the devastating disease, Liz was determined to do her part to help other families have a fighting chance. Today, Liz has raised $37,000 to support life-changing lung cancer research and support.
“I will always remember my Mum for her strength. She wasn’t ashamed of who she was. She was the strongest person I’ve ever met.
“When I read the statistics after Mum was diagnosed, I was devastated. I didn’t really realise until after my Mum passed away how unfair patients with lung cancer are treated and how little funding goes into looking after or looking into lung cancer.”
Although Ellen never said it, Liz knows that her Mum, a former smoker, was ashamed of her diagnosis and told few people. After Ellen passed away Liz was shocked, frustrated and heartbroken by the number of people who commented on Ellen’s smoking history.
“People didn’t care about anything else. Her battle, who she was, how we were, all they wanted to know was, ‘did she smoke?’. As if that justified why she died. I got sick of being asked those questions, and I got sick of defending why I thought that my mum didn’t deserve to die.”
The stigma associated with lung cancer – Australia’s biggest cancer killer – is a roadblock to treatment, care, support and funding for research. After her devastating loss, Liz wanted to raise money for research, and she knew she wanted it to be big to help raise awareness. In its first year her LungRaiser Charity Ball raised over $17,000 and over $20,000 in its second. With the funds raised and in honour of Liz’s late mother, the Lung Foundation Australia Ellen Yates Memorial Grant in Aid was established.
Today, the grant is supporting young researcher, Dr Afaf Abed whose project is investigating treatment response in people living with lung cancer. This research has the potential to help advance our understanding of when a treatment is working optimally and when it isn’t – a critical step to helping to identify the most effective treatment for an individual as early as possible.
“I am so humbled to be able to do this. It’s a real privilege. I wanted to do something that I knew that would make Mum proud and I think I’ve done that. My hope for the future is that lung cancer patients will have a fair fight. If you can, please, please donate. We need your help. Families and patients need your help.”
Meet the researcher
Dr Afaf Abed received the Lung Foundation Australia Ellen Yates Memorial Grant-in-Aid lung cancer research award in 2019.
The generous funding from the Yates family has played a major role in Dr Abed’s research project.