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Tasmanians put their foot down

MORE than 200 people descended on Long Beach Reserve in Sandy Bay for the Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation’s ‘Put Your Foot Down’ Hobart Walk, raising awareness and funds for research into pancreatic cancer.

The four-kilometre family and dog-friendly walk, which was held in late March, was designed to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for research.

The Avner Foundation founder and chief executive officer Caroline Kelly said the goal was to make a substantial difference in the survival rates of pancreatic cancer, which currently sits at 9.8 per cent.

“People need to be aware that this disease has been chronically underfunded, which is why the survival rate is 9.8 per cent compared to the likes of breast cancer and prostate cancer, which both have survival rates of above 90 per cent,” she said.

“There’s work being done to change those statistics, but there needs to be more awareness and funding for pancreatic cancer because the reality is that this year, pancreatic cancer will kill the same number of people as breast cancer.

“The event also provides access to support for families who are going through it or have been through it because they know that at the walk there’ll be other people who understand.

“I think people just really appreciate having a walk purely dedicated to raising awareness about the disease that has affected them or taken a loved one.”

Ms Kelly said the event was named in honour of her late husband Avner Nahmani, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September 2007 and passed away 13 months later.

“Avner lived in Hobart for many years and I lived there for periods of time with him, so it’s always really special to get down here to see a sea of purple and know that people believe in what we are doing and know that we’re giving them hope,” she said.

“The Foundation was set up because Avner had a dream to see better outcomes for future patients.

“Even though he was getting really close to the end, he still found the strength to have this dream and work on it when he could.”

Ms Kelly said the initial goal for the Foundation was to raise $1 million, but since its establishment in October 2008, the Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation has now raised more than $10 million.

This year’s Hobart walk raised more than $8,400, with funds going to research grants into pancreatic cancer around the country.

“To date, we’ve funded 22 grants,” Ms Kelly said.

“It is a complex disease to research, but they’re all making inroads into combating it, and we can see that with how survival rates have changed – before last week the survival rate was 8.7 per cent.”

The Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation is the only charity in Australia exclusively dedicated to pancreatic cancer.

Its vision is to double the number of people who survive the disease by 2020.

For more information, visit www.avnersfoundation.org.au.

Caption: Participants took to the streets for the Anver Pancreatic Foundation ‘Put Your Foot Down’ Hobart Walk.

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