Cancer Care Foundation Ambassador Barry Alchin advocates for action on cancer research and care

As a resident and prominent citizen of the Sutherland Shire for more than 60 years, Barry Alchin has made it his mission to help others. He became an Ambassador for the Cancer Care Foundation after his own experience with cancer diagnosis and treatment. Through his support of the Foundation’s activities, he hopes to positively impact the lives of those affected by this disease by strengthening ties to government, healthcare and business and to cancer sufferers.

Barry remembers a key moment in his personal journey. It was a sunlit winter’s afternoon when the bathroom at his home was flooded with light that revealed a concerning alteration to his skin colour. It proved to be a warning sign of pancreatic cancer, which has a five-year survival rate of 12.5%.

From the outset, Barry was impressed with the passion and abilities of all the doctors who provided medical care. Among them are his longstanding GP, Dr George Saad, who sent him to Sutherland Hospital “with a rocket” to get the first blood tests done; his surgeon Dr David Yeo who performed his Whipple Procedure; and Dr David Thomas, his oncologist at Southside Cancer Care Centre who Barry describes as another “compassionate person”.

Barry started chemotherapy treatment with Dr Thomas at Southside Cancer Care Centre, in Miranda NSW, seven weeks after his Whipple Procedure at St George Private Hospital in September 2016. A further six months of chemotherapy was required to target the remaining cancer in the stomach area. Despite the extended treatment, Barry was able to appreciate the “magnificent views to the city”, the on-site parking and the ease of accessibility to testing facilities. Pathology for blood tests and imaging for MRI, PET, bone density scans, and x-rays, were all in the same building as Southside Cancer Care Centre. According to Barry, these wonderful facilities were all trumped by the professionalism and caring nature of Southside Cancer Care Centre’s staff.

When Barry’s cancer returned after several years, he first tried radiation treatment before being afforded the opportunity to participate in pancreatic cancer clinical trials under Professor Paul de Souza with Cancer Care Foundation. Pancreatic cancer is the 8th most diagnosed cancer in Australia. Only 3 out of 10 people (36.4%) survive for one year after diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Barry has since taken part in two clinical trials.

As CCF Ambassador, one of Barry’s main goals is to improve the awareness levels of Southside Cancer Care Centre with local residents, GPs and specialist medical providers in the area. “Many people have never heard that there is such a cancer clinic in the Sutherland Shire,” he notes. “You don’t think about how close this centre is for people in the Sutherland Shire area – until you are exposed to the need for treatment.”

Barry wants to highlight the Foundation’s philanthropic aspects, such as the fact that, “The Foundation would be able to help out people unable to afford the cost of cancer treatment.”

Barry will definitely be emphasising the potential of oncology clinical trials and cancer research conducted by the Cancer Care Foundation. While worldwide medical research funding was diverted to Covid research in recent years, he hopes that there can now be more funding that supports cancer research and clinical trials. “The clinical trial is so vital”, he points out. “A medical trial can be quite consuming of the person. But if somebody with cancer is given the thought that maybe they can survive the cancer because they are on a trial, it would be a wonderful fillip for their mental state.”

His early steps as Ambassador will involve meeting with people who can support the Foundation – whether they are involved in Government, medical professionals or potential business donors – and reaching out to them. “Everyone knows at least one person who has been lost to cancer.” says Barry.

Barry Alchin’s professional and community activities include being a business owner, President of the NSW Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vice-President of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chair of ShireBiz and currently Precinct Advisor to ANSTO.

If you would like to find out more or speak with Barry about Cancer Care Foundation, please get in touch.

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