2020: The Year of “Clarity of Vision”

Happy New Year to you, our valued supporters. This June will mark our seventh year as a Foundation. What began in 2013 as a way to find our way forward after losing Connor at 18 years old to brain cancer, has evolved to become Australia’s largest not for profit, solely dedicated to paediatric brain cancer. We are proud of this but also humbled, the task before us is monumental. Paediatric brain cancer, to no one’s surprise is complicated. 

I love January- the promise of a new year, new possibilities, new resolutions and plans. It’s a time I feel invigorated and motivated to get planning, get organised. Heading into 2020, I couldn’t resist thinking about the year ahead by the date: 2020 and equating the year to perfect vision.  What does 2020 vision actually mean? Interestingly, it means seeing from 20 feet away what a ‘normal’ person sees. The definition includes the phrase ‘clarity of vision’. Working towards a clear, easily understood vision for our Foundation sounds like a good challenge for the year ahead. Paediatric brain cancer IS complicated but with a good vision we can more easily ‘see’ how we can make a difference. 

This January, at least in Australia, has been a very different kind of start. The bushfires have been relentless and devastating-to forests, small towns, wildlife and so many people affected. It has been heart-warming to see the rush of support coming from so many.  People are amazing, rallying together for good. We will keep a respectful eye on what’s happening as we begin our plans for 2020. Paediatric brain is still the #1 disease killer of young Australians. And we are as motivated as ever to help change these odds-we’re here for the long haul and hope you are too.

We are buoyed by the impact you’ve helped bring to fruition. We’ve learned over the years that by working with the doctors, clinicians and researchers to identify what needs to be done, we can help advocate to get it accomplished. The AIM BRAIN Project (ensuring every child diagnosed in Australia has the best diagnostic testing) and the $10 million injection for ANZCHOG clinical trials are two examples. Our five year Robert Connor Dawes Clinical Trials Program has been joined by the Australian Government and the Financial Markets for Children, to rapidly improve the quality and quantity of clinical trials available for Australian young people with brain cancer.

Over the last 12 months we’ve welcomed several new Legacy Ambassador families to join us in raising money and awareness. We know these families are vital to all we do and are.  Together is better and we will continue to find ways to highlight their contributions in memory or in support of their children. A few examples: the Zoe Stanley Early Phase Clinical Trials Coordinator position at Royal Children’s, the Pippa Rea CIKA Tissue Biobanking at the Murdoch Research Institute, ANZCHOG meeting travel grants in memory of Gideon Gratzer and Grace Money, and the Alfie Chiver’s CRISPR Project at the Hudson Institute.

Our US Foundation has had a significant boost with the hiring of Cheri McCusker as our US Operations Manager. For the first time since our inception we have actual feet on the ground in the US. Cheri is smart, fun and with a big heart is a perfect combination to lead our US efforts. First up Connor’s Erg, 10-14 February!

This next year we’ll have a big focus on basic research for paediatric brain cancer and how we can best help ‘push the needle forward’.  We have, what I hope are, meaningful plans in this area. We will keep you posted as they unfold.

Is our vision a perfect 2020? No, of course not, but it is getting better.  We are still finding our way after losing Connor, navigating our way through a devastating loss but also our Foundation, trying to make a difference in what has to be one of the world’s most complicated diseases. One thing is perfectly clear-we can only make progress with you by our side, for that I will be forever grateful. You are helping us give families the most important thing of all, HOPE.

Aeternum Fortis,
Liz Dawes