Cancer … this time it’s personal

Undoubtedly, everyone reading this will have had their life affected in some way by cancer – whether through a personal brush with the disease, or as a supporter of a friend or family member dealing with it.

Cancer Society

In fact, every 24 minutes someone in New Zealand is diagnosed with cancer, with over 21,000 new cancer diagnoses and some 8000 New Zealanders succumbing to the disease every year. And for over 80 years, Cancer Society Auckland Northland has been engaged in the fight against cancer, focusing on three key areas – prevention, supportive care and research.

“I am sometimes asked, ‘Are we winning the fight against cancer?’ This is a complex and difficult question to answer,” said President Nigel Brown in the Cancer Society’s latest annual report. “Sadly there are few magic bullets to be found … While it may not be realistic to hope for a world without cancer, we do see a future where cancer in this country becomes a much more manageable chronic disease.”

And progress is happening – between 1972 and 2011, the ten-year cancer survival rate (across all types of cancer) rose from just 24% to around 57%, thanks to advances made in cancer research. However, there is still a long way to go.

Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre

Cancer Society is New Zealand’s largest independent funder of cancer research, and it plays a vital role in supporting the work of the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre. Operated jointly by Cancer Society Auckland Northland and the University of Auckland, the Centre’s work focusses on the discovery and development of new drugs for cancer treatment and less invasive and better tolerated treatments, with Cancer Society Auckland Northland contributing over $2.4 million towards this work each year.

Despite its smaller size and funding levels compared to overseas counterparts, the Research Centre’s innovative research contributions are punching well above its weight. With an international reputation as a world-leading anti-cancer drug development laboratory, it has brought a number of new cancer drugs to clinical trial, belying its David-like size in the fight against this Goliath.

What’s ahead in the fight against cancer?

The Society recently held its inaugural Cancer Research Week, giving an insight into the ground-breaking research being done here in New Zealand by the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre. A highlight of the week’s events was a public lecture entitled “Cancer … this time it’s personal”, given by leading international cancer researcher and academic, Professor Ian Tannock of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the University of Toronto.

The lecture provided a fascinating look at innovative developments such as molecular-targeted therapy (where drugs are developed specifically to attack a certain target), personalised cancer medicine (where treatment is tailored depending on specific genetic markers) and immunotherapy (which seeks to activate the body’s own defences to fight against cancer cells).

However, the cost of cancer treatment is an ongoing problem, with panellists at the lecture noting that the cost of saving a year of life (in many cases) has risen to around $200,000 a year, up from more like $60,000 when they started out. Though still in their infancy, research into new treatments like those discussed at the lecture is giving rise to excitement for what the future may hold, if they can be brought to market cost-effectively.

Working towards a better future

Like other charitable organisations, the work of Cancer Society and the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre depends greatly on donations. As Cancer Society does not receive any direct Government funding, its work is enabled by the generosity of donors.

Bequests are the Society’s largest source of funding and remain critical to make ongoing research into potentially game-changing discoveries possible. No matter how large or small, every bequest makes a real difference to people living with cancer.

“The choice to leave a bequest to Cancer Society Auckland Northland can be your legacy – your way to continue this life-saving work,” says CEO of Cancer Society Auckland Northland Division, John Loof.

“I look forward to the day when cancer is nothing more than a temporary setback – an illness that can be treated quickly and easily, and doesn’t cause great pain and heartache. If you share that vision, you can help make it a reality by supporting Cancer Society Auckland Northland by leaving a bequest in your will. No matter how large or small, a bequest from you will create a better future for all New Zealanders touched by cancer.”

Cancer Society Gift

For more information or to discuss how you can help Cancer Society, please contact the Society’s Planned Giving coordinator by phoning 09 308 0242, or by sending an email to For cancer information and support, call the Cancer Information Helpline on 0800 CANCER (226 237), or email

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