Children donate pocket money to K9MD
K9MD relies on donations and grants in order to do our work, however this donation really was extra special. These amazing children have saved and donated part of their pocket money to K9MD. Their family have been touched by cancer and with approval I have copied their story here. Please take the time to read. It really is special.
Georgia was the first grandchild of my father to be born after his death from lymphoma in May 2012, and so she bears his name as ‘Stevee’; her middle name, in remembrance of him. Dad had been feeling unwell for some time, eventually so unwell that my sister convinced him to call an ambulance as he was on his own in Paihia, and get to the hospital. Thinking it was something to do with IBS (which he may or may not have had, it turns out!) and medication he had been prescribed for it, he was taken off these meds and given steroids. Shortly after this a scan showed no cancer to explain his symptoms (the steroids had apparently shrunk it), and with Christmas coming up, he was booked in for further tests in the New Year. Those results saw him sent to Auckland Hospital, and that is where he stayed. Stage 4 Lymphoma was diagnosed and treatment began with only a 50% chance of success. Sadly, after initially responding well to treatment, it eventuated that the cancer had metastasized, and nothing further could be done. We had 72 hours to gather family together, and take Dad out for one last drink and a trip up One Tree Hill. He really didn’t want to spend his last hours in Auckland, but he was already too unwell to travel. He received excellent care from the nurses on the Oncology Ward, and I was at his bedside when he passed away at the age of 67.
If we had had a way to diagnose cancer from his unspecific symptoms the previous year, perhaps he would have made it through treatment, and would have lived to meet the two grandchildren he wanted to see me have; Georgia Stevee who bears his name, and Drayven Dumas, who has Poppa Steve’s curls and Bolton features. A urine sample at the start of this process could have made all the difference, if there were a dog trained and waiting.
And so we siblings concentrated on our mum, supporting and encouraging her to retire and renovate her house and enjoy herself. She always spoke about living with each of us for four months a year, and perhaps she was joking, but I think that would have been nice. She was so happy to see Georgia and Drayven arrive safe and well, and visited whenever she could despite her fear of flying.
Sadly, during this time, both my sister’s in-laws were struck down with cancer, melanoma taking her father-in-law – a wonderful, engaged, and active grandfather who loved the outdoors, and liver cancer taking her mother-in-law, a well-respected member of the village who had been behind many community-minded programmes such as the local Music & Movement, and was a much loved and doting, and also very active, fun, and engaged grandmother.
With a knee injury and a worsening back issue, our mum finally set a date to retire. She was 68. She had a lovely retirement party in July 2018. That night she fell, worsening her back injury which led quickly to surgery to remove a cyst on her spine in August. Feeling much better, life was finally looking up, and Mum was looking forward to not having to answer to an alarm clock. Unfortunately she became quite tired. Initially putting it down to recovery from the surgery, by December we finally convinced her to get some tests done. Her iron was through the floor, and she was urgently sent through to Waikato for further tests. Just before Christmas we received the devastating news that Mum had bowel cancer, and it was well-advanced. Again we came together around our parent, and sadly learned that it was inoperable. At best, Mum could have 18 months, at worst, just a few weeks.
We pulled out all the stops, and Mum did her absolute. Surgeries, medications, tests. Investigations discovered that a predisposition for bowel cancer runs through Mum’s family. Sadly, again after showing initial signs of the treatments working, Mum became suddenly unwell. We raced to her bedside from around the country, and were with her when she breathed her last. She was 69.
My sister's three boys have helped their father, a builder, to make all four caskets for all four grandparents. All of the grandchildren in our family, of whom we are so proud, have known far too much loss already.
Thanks to those investigations, we know that we need to keep an eye on ourselves for bowel cancer. I myself have had pre-cancerous polyps removed and require three yearly colonoscopies. So of course when I heard about K9MD from a friend, I had to go along and find out more about them.
After attending a presentation in Dunedin during the winter of 2021 with two of my children, we decided to help K9MD; because we know we will need their help in the future.
In the context of my family, having testing available through K9MD means that we could submit a simple urine sample every 6-12 months to ensure we are still clear of cancer. I will always need to have colonoscopies, but this potential for regular, non-invasive, diagnostic testing means the chances of me, my family, or my children developing cancer undetected to the point where it is life-threatening, are slim to none. This really is a life saver for my family and I.
This method of early cancer detection can be applied to groups of people who are at risk for certain cancers. Both positive and negative results could be used to help prioritise cases on waiting lists. The non-invasive nature of a urine sample means people are more likely to get tested, and to do it earlier. It could also be a powerful tool in helping to diagnose when symptomatology is non-specific, such as lethargy, nausea, and unspecific discomfort etc, long before tumors can be palpated or identified on scans.
Both K9MDs Levi and Frieda have passed validation; their tests were rigorous and independently verified. K9MD will next move on to human urine samples and then forward to screening alongside current tests and diagnostic tools. This is happening now; K9MD could be helping YOU when you need it, so that you can stick around for your family. Please be a part of the solution.
A research paper is in the works and updates will be posted on the K9MD Facebook page, so please like the page for updates. Newsworthy events are also posted on the website, as well as a wealth of further information about K9MD:
Donate easily at: https://givealittle.co.nz/org/k9-medical-detection-nz
Follow them on Facebook (sooo many cute pics too!): https://www.facebook.com/K9MDNZ
Below are links to two podcasts that provide further information about what K9MD are doing, which you can listen to by simply clicking on the links.
The first is an interview founder Pauline Blomfield had with Jay & Dunc on The Rock Drive Show (15 mins). They were flabbergasted this initiative is not funded yet, and have promised their ongoing support. They agree the public should know how real this is, how simple, and how life changing it will be for every Kiwi in a very short space of time.
Rock Radio Podcast:
The second is a podcast created by RNZ which goes into more detail regarding the science behind this initiative, as well as the training. It is a very interesting listen.
I encourage you to take a moment to find out what this charitable organisation is doing right here on The Taieri.
Recent clip from One News: