Blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma comprise 10 per cent of all cancers, with more than 1,500 people across Ireland diagnosed annually. Over the last number of years, different kinds of leukaemia have impacted on the lives of both my family and a very close friend, most recently Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.
For CML, medical research has played a huge role in supporting better outcomes, and due in part to the development of medication, the survival rate for people with CML has increased from 31% in 1993 (5 year survival rate) to 95.2% in 2011 (8 year survival rate).
For this reason, I have decided to raise funds for the Mater Institute of Research and Therapy, which is making a difference in the fight against Blood Cancers.
The Mater Institute of Research and Therapy (MIRT) was founded by Professor Peter O'Gorman, Consultant Haematologist, at the Mater University Hospital. MIRT works to drive progress and innovation in the understanding and treatment of blood cancers, including leukaemia.
There are three core activities in the MIRT Program.
Core 1- The area of clinical trials is a very important focus for the group. Prof O’Gorman was National Haematology Clinical Trials Co-ordinator with Clinical Trials Ireland from 2010-14 and is currently one of the Principal Investigators for the Blood Cancer Network Ireland clinical trials group. In these roles he has designed and successfully run new blood cancer trials for Irish patients.
Core 2- MIRT provides a travelling fellowship program, training and mentoring the clinician-scientists of the future through their international MD-PHD Program linked with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Through this programme MIRT is training a future generation of clinician-scientists who will bring not just innovation to the area, but better treatment outcomes for Irish patients.
Core 3- In the basic science programme MIRT scientists perform cutting edge lab research on blood and bone marrow samples looking to discover new targets for the development of new tests and treatments for blood cancer.
In summary, as Prof. O’Gorman explains “the MIRT mentorship, clinical trial and scientific research programmes are very much patient-focussed. The clinical trial program results in new drugs being made available to patients in a timely manner. The training programme is delivering a new generation of consultants that are innovative, and advocate on behalf of the patients and have excellent international and local networks. Ultimately the result will be better care, better treatments and improved outcomes for patients with blood cancer”.
As I said, leukaemia is something that has impacted the lives of my nearest and dearest, and I'm keen to raise the maximum funds I can to support research for leukaemia and blood cancers.
I would also like to thank the 4 who comprise our team that are giving up their time to help prepare and support me during the cycle.
I'm very grateful for all the support. And if anyone happens to be in Donegal in June, and shout hello if you see me whizz by!