In 2018, fraternal twin sisters Tracey and JoJo turned 40. Instead of the big 40th celebration they had always planned, 2018 marked the fifth anniversary of JoJo’s passing from cervical cancer. Determined to honour her sister’s life and raise funds for gynaecological cancer research, Tracey registered a team to participate in Cherish Women’s Cancer Foundation’s annual beach volleyball competition, The Battle.
“Given 2018 was such a milestone year for my family, I convinced my husband and friends to enter the fundraiser. It wasn’t hard. They’re an active bunch and they knew how important it was to me to do this for my sister and for a friend who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” Tracey said.
At just 34 years of age, Tracey’s sister JoJo discovered she had cancer just before Christmas 2012. For months, she had had symptoms that were dismissed because of her age. Then she wound up in the emergency department in great pain. Two days later, she received the chilling diagnosis: it was advanced cervical cancer.
Despite immediate and intensive radiation and chemotherapy treatment, JoJo made it through the festive season but the twins celebrated their last birthday together on 21 March in hospital. Just 17 days later JoJo passed away on 7 April 2013. Despite the sad circumstances, Tracey remembers her sister’s big personality with fondness.
“She was bright, bubbly and talented,” Tracey said. “JoJo was an aerobics instructor, fit as anything and loved music and the arts. She played the guitar and wrote song lyrics. In the hospital, we used to talk about a variety show that we’d host together when she was better. It was to raise awareness and funds for gynaecological cancer research so that no one has to experience what she did.”
Eight years on, Tracey is a cancer epidemiologist and leading a gynaecological cancer research project at UQ. The study focuses on better understanding the current needs and priorities of women diagnosed with advanced gynaecological cancer (stage III or IV) to help improve quality of life and wellbeing.
“Research is the key to helping all cancer patients live well after a cancer diagnosis. This is even more true for women living with advanced gynaecological cancer,” Tracey said.
If you are interested in learning more about this study and your eligibility to register, please contact Tracey on email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0404 028 790. To read more about the study click here.