Cheryl Pirecca is a happy-go-lucky Cronulla resident, who is a Mother of three and a Grandmother of four. Just over four years ago things got very difficult for Cheryl when she was diagnosed with cancer in the neck. Head and neck cancers are among the most common cancers affecting thousands of Australians every year and the numbers are growing.
Cheryl was lucky and was successfully treated at St George Hospital. However, there were side affects from the treatment that saved her life, this affected her quality of life. Cheryl had difficulties with swallowing and explains that -
“…The only food I could eat was pureed. It was awful. I couldn’t go out with friends and share special times with my family. I lost my independence, my confidence and my social life.”
Most of us are completely unaware that we swallow about 1200 times a day and it is a highly complex activity that we take for granted. It is a serious medical condition leading to dehydration and poor nutrition and can be life threatening.
Cheryl was referred to the Swallow Clinic at St George Hospital. This clinic had been conducting world- leading research into the side effects for people with head and neck cancers and offering real solutions for these patients.
The research discovered that 47% of patients treated had swallowing problems. However most disturbing was that only half of these patients sought help for the condition. This is despite the fact that 20% of patients treated with radiotherapy had died as a result of complications from their swallowing dysfunction and many more had their quality of life severely impacted.
There was a great change in Cheryl; this research conducted at SSMRF gave her quality of life back. The research now is being put into practise and helping people every day.
“I now understand why research is so important. My doctors are also researchers and they are the world’s best at solving the problem I had. Now I’m eating solid food again. I can go out to dinner and enjoy my time with friends and family. Research gave me my life back”, Cheryl explains the importance of medical research .
Real life stories just like Cheryl’s happen every day at the St George and Sutherland Hospitals. As leading teaching hospitals in Australia, they have a strong reputation of delivering successful research and helping many thousands of people.
With your generous support today, we can ensure that vital funds go directly to the doctors and health professionals to continue their research projects.
Please help Tynan Motors raise funds for the SSMRF and join the Michael Tynan Memorial Challenge today.