Real life stories

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Read more about how medical research has impacted the lives of so many people.

Surviving childhood cancer – Luca’s story

It’s hard to imagine four words more frightening to a parent than “Your child has cancer”. Monique and Baden share Luca’s story.

Thanks to medical research, today Luca is a smiling, happy and adventurous eight-year-old. He was only three when his parents learnt he had a rare brain cancer.

His parents donated tissue from his tumour for research, creating more hope for the next child with a rare brain cancer.

Luca Hall-Boggia a cancer survivor smiling at Hudson Institute. Picture Courtesy Jason Edwards /Herald Sun. real life stories
Cade Conlan Watts, tragically passed away in February 2023 at the young age of 15 from Ewing Sarcoma.

Ewing sarcoma

” Your son has Cancer” is something no parent ever wants to hear. Cade Watts, a beautiful soul, tragically passed away at the young age of 15 from a rare and terrible form of cancer; Ewing Sarcoma.

This rare form of cancer currently has a very poor survival rate, which Hudson researchers are working to change.

“Looking back the tiresome treatments Cade had to go through when faced with this challenge, no family should have to go through this.

We are raising funds in hope that further research into this rare disease could one day mean that no other child will suffer from this insidious disease and improved treatment options may be made available for children experiencing Ewing sarcoma.” – Cades’ parents

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Nelly and Eli, embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (soft tissue cancer) survivor. Real life stories

Eli’s cancer battle

Eli was just 16 months old when he went from being a happy, healthy boy to beginning chemo in the space of a week.

501 days of chemotherapy.

Eli had an embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (soft tissue cancer) in his bladder, and the treatment was harrowing, but three-and-a-half years later he remains cancer-free, with plenty of life ahead of him.

“Medical professionals – scientists like Ron and Jason – they’re all just superheroes in my eyes. It’s so personal for me, so if my story and our journey can help spread the word and attract extra funding, I will work my hardest and scream ‘more funding, please”. – Nelly, Eli’s mum

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L-R: Hannah, Nav and baby Ronick. Real life stories

Little Ronick’s story

Professor Suzanne Miller and her team’s PROTECT Me Trial is providing hope to parents of our most vulnerable babies like Ronick.

When doctors told Hannah after her 28-week scan that her baby’s growth was well behind schedule, she was understandably concerned.

The world-first PROTECT Me Trial is using melatonin to combat the effects of fetal growth restriction (FGR) – a major cause of cardiovascular disease, lung and brain injury in newborns.

“I believe in science. I trust the doctors and midwives, so I decided to join the trial as soon as I knew there was an issue with my baby’s growth,” – Hannah

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Patient Concetta Vasille diagnosed with pancreatic cancer thanks her doctors, Dr Daniel Croagh and Dr Joanne Lundy at Hudson Institute for saving her life.

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer is predicted to be the second leading cause of cancer-related death by 2030. 

Conventional testing was unable to detect Concetta Vasille’s pancreatic cancer.

But for the first time, our researchers have used genetic tumour profiling to diagnose pancreatic cancer.

“He saved my life. I am a lucky girl.” — patient Concetta Vasille. 

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Suzana tells her story on the safe arrival of baby Max and praises Hudson Institute researchers keeping preterm babies healthy.

Max’s early arrival

When baby Max arrived – early and in a hurry – no-one realised he would play a vital part in keeping other preterm babies healthy in the future. 

“We’re very proud that, out of such a dark time for our family, we also did something good,” she said.

Research under the guidance of a team led by Professors Marcel and Claudia Nold led to Max being the first participant in a trial of a new treatment to prevent preterm health issues.

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Real life stories from the Endometriosis community

Endo community

As Eliza Hart said, “When I was going through pre-anxiety about surgery, beautiful messages of support and solidarity came from my online endometriosis community, and they pulled me out of the mud when I was going through that.

It’s not heavy – you’ve got this beautiful group of people who are willing to help, who you have solidarity with. We take the rope and pull each other out.” 

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Little baby Jack sleeping peacefully

Born prematurely

Jack was born premature at just 24 weeks and endured several setbacks in his first two months, including being put on a ventilator when seizures prevented his breathing.

He was also at risk for BPD and cerebral palsy. 

Professor Marcel Nold is one of the neonatologists looking after Jack. The aim of research conducted by the team he leads with A/Prof Claudia Nold is to find new treatments that will give babies like Jack a better start to life.

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Jess sitting with baby daughter

Hidden pain of POP

Six months after the birth of her third child, Jess*, 35, felt something wasn’t right. As she was walking 200 metres to the beach one day with her baby in a carrier, she felt an uncomfortable dragging sensation in her pelvis and had to sit down.

“The only thing that is keeping me going is reading about Professor Caroline Gargett’s team’s research into a potential stem cell treatment for POP,” — Jess.  

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Marisa Coniglione hopes that one day Dr Giles IBD treatments look for the answer to the question: Can IBD be cured?

Marisa’s IBD fight

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) symptoms can range from bloody diarrhoea to involuntary weight loss, and even joint swellings or eye inflammation.

It’s a condition 23-year-old nurse Marisa Coniglione knows all too well. She’s had ulcerative colitis (UC) since she was 11, and Dr Giles is her treating specialist.

“UC is invisible – no-one understands the suffering, so it doesn’t get public attention,” — Marisa

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PhD Researcher Kirstin Tindal and her son Cameron

Stillbirth journey

At the age of 20, on a gap year from her Bachelor of Science studies, Kirstin Tindal unexpectedly became pregnant. Kirstin shares her stillbirth story to help others.

Largely as a result of her experience – Kirstin switched her studies from zoology to genetics and she’s now studying menstruation as an epidemiological indicator of birth outcomes and fertility.

She’s also a new mother, with two-month-old Cameron keeping her busy.

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Rachel Botros, Crohns disease sufferer

Living with Crohn’s

Rachel Botros, 19, has suffered from Crohn’s disease since she was a 14-year-old. The chronic condition interrupted her schooling and ability to live a typical teenage life. 

Her two siblings also have inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) – Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

“I usually see Dr Edward Giles (Hudson Institute inflammation researcher and Monash Health consultant paediatric gastroenterologist) every two months, but at my last appointment, they said I can see him every six months because I’m doing so well. ” — Rachel

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Jaxon and Sarah Russell featuring in Hudson Institute's 2019 Annual Report, Targeting childhood cancer

Childhood cancer

Sarah Russell knew something was gravely wrong with one of her twins, five-year-old Jaxon, when he became seriously ill with vomiting, nausea and unusual bruising, while his brother, Hunter, remained well.

Jaxon was diagnosed in October 2019 with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL).

“Many years ago, Jaxon might not have had the chance that he has today to overcome this cancer,” said Sarah, who is looking forward to the day her son can run around again and start school”—Sarah

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Bridget Hustwaite, Endometriosis Australia Ambassador and Triple J broadcaster shares her endometriosis story with Hudson Institute

Endo awareness

Bridget Hustwaite suffered six years of intense abdominal pain before she was diagnosed with stage four endometriosis. 

“We need faster diagnosis, better treatments and more education and awareness about endometriosis. The fact this research is being funded is a step in the right direction,”— Bridget

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Dr Stacey Ellery's personal and professional worlds collide as she researchers further into whether taking creatine during pregnancy improves a healthier outcome for conceiving and delivering a healthy baby.

Healthy babies

There are times when a researcher’s personal and professional worlds collide. One of those times came late last year for Dr Stacey Ellery, who researches the use of creatine during pregnancy. 

The health of her unborn baby was her primary concern, so Dr Ellery turned to science to help decide whether creatine supplementation during pregnancy was the right choice.

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Endometriosis case study, Kat, pictured on the balcony with her husband and children.

Kat’s endo journey

For years, Kat was told by doctors she might never have children due to severe endometriosis. Kat underwent two surgeries to remove endometriosis. Within a year, Kat and her partner fell pregnant with twins. Yet at nine weeks, came the devastating news of a miscarriage. 

Now, the mother of twin girls, she wants to create more awareness, so that other women – and her daughters – don’t suffer.

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Endometriosis Case Study Evelyn

Evelyn is grateful

It wasn’t until Evelyn’s debilitating symptoms started to impact her daily life that she sought help.  

“I had to advocate for myself to get a diagnosis and trust my own body to know what was right and what wasn’t,”—Evelyn.

Evelyn is grateful for the care she has received from top endometriosis experts in Melbourne, and the support from “my wonderful husband who accompanied me to every appointment, scan and support group meeting”. 

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Bianca Endometriosis Sufferer

Bianca’s battle

Bianca had the worst case of endometriosis her doctors said they had seen. Yet, she had no pelvic pain and was only diagnosed after experiencing infertility. She now wants to raise awareness so that other women don’t suffer. 

“People associate endometriosis with period pain or pelvic pain – but it’s so much more than stomach cramps. I nearly lost a kidney, and I was close to requiring a bowel resection due to endometriosis. This is not just about period pain. It’s just horrific,” —Bianca 

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Endometriosis sufferer Nicole Fernley

Talking about endo

Nicole Fernley battled with endometriosis symptoms for 20 years before receiving a diagnosis. 

Nicole cried tears of joy, relief, anger and frustration that it took 20 years to get an endometriosis diagnosis, a common gynaecological disease that affects one in nine women.

“This is my story. I want you to keep talking about endometriosis, you never know when you might be that one person for someone else. It is my hope that my research and the work here at Hudson Institute creates the momentum for change.”  — Nicole

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Have you been impacted by one of the medical conditions that we research and would like to share your story?

Please contact us today.

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