Revolutionary technology saves Emma's life

A new technology, which was funded by St John of God Foundation donors, at St John of God Subiaco Hospital (WA) provided 29-year-old Emma English personalised cancer care which helped save her life.

“When I was initially diagnosed with bowel cancer, Dr Andrew Dean and the team at St John of God Subiaco Hospital recommended surgery along with one and a half years of chemotherapy – it was a really long and hard 18 months for me and my family,” she said.

“When I finally completed the treatment and got the all clear, I was so relieved.”

Bad news as the cancer spreads

“But in February 2017, it all came crashing down again when a routine PET scan revealed that the cancer had spread to my liver.”

“I was told I would have a zero per cent chance of survival if the new tumour wasn’t removed.”

Emma, then aged 28, was facing another surgery and a further 12 months of chemotherapy.

“My husband Link and I got married between my surgery, and my first day of chemotherapy,” she said.

“I was so sick, I spent more time in hospital than I did out – no one wants to spend their first year as husband and wife in hospital.”

New Technology offers hope

During the course of her treatment, Emma’s body reacted negatively to majority of the chemotherapy drugs – so Dr Dean and the multidisciplinary team at St John of God Subiaco Hospital worked together to craft an individualised care plan to treat Emma’s cancer.

Emma’s Oncologist Dr Andrew Dean used the technology MiSequencer, purchased using generous donations from the community, to identify the gene sequence of her cancer, which had spread from her bowel to her liver.

“My platelets sit at 130 when I’m healthy – but for the majority of my treatment, they sat at 60 and even got to as low as 3,” Emma said.

“Dr Dean adjusted the treatment a lot for me, I was actually treated with chemotherapy drugs normally used for pancreatic cancer. By using the characteristics of my tumour, he was able to adjust my treatment plan to best suit me,” Emma said.

Cancer-free thanks to St John of God Foundation donors

Today, thanks to the donor-funded technology, Emma is now cancer-free and is living life to her fullest.

“It’s so great to finally have some down time with my new husband Link. We can do normal husband and wife things like go for a walk and just relax. I never thought I’d appreciate normality the way I do now.”

Dr Andrew Dean said it was really pleasing to be able to provide such a good treatment outcome. 

“It is only due to the generosity of the community, that we are able to provide the best course of treatment and health outcomes to people like Emma,” he said.