“I was 18 weeks pregnant in an extremely high risk pregnancy in Australia. I was dressed in scrubs, standing in a surgical theatre as a glioblastoma brain tumour was being removed from a patient to be handed to me to bring to the lab for research. This day was a little different because I knew it was my last one before compulsory bed rest so I stayed for the follow-up consultation. The patient was awake and drinking tea when I arrived. She was 45. She was a mother of two kids, a mere 10 years older than I am now. She knew she wasn’t going to live beyond the next six months and there was nothing more they could do. We sat and talked. She asked about my research, about our baby and what I planned for my career and then she said something that is what drives me every day. She said ‘When you continue your research in Ireland, make it the type of world for your daughter where people will die WITH a brain tumour and not FROM it’. Make it so that it’s not a death sentence.
Since I received my funding from the Irish Cancer Society in 2013, that’s what I have been trying to do. I was awarded a 3 year project to try and improve how glioblastoma patients respond to chemotherapy, to try and improve survival rates. I realised that for this ambitious change to work you need to work closely with those who are affected by brain tumours, with other researchers, with doctors and social workers. I immerse myself in every aspect of this type of cancer to try and understand it better, to try and make a difference. I set up the Irish Brain Tumour Research Initiative (IBTRI) to help further fund this research and hopefully keep a promise I made to someone, a request that broke my heart.”