A concert held for the second time in memory of a popular north-east musician has netted more than £15,000 for research into two of Scotland’s fastest rising cancers.
Today (Thursday, April 14) Joyce Byrne, wife of the late Paddy Byrne - who suffered from gullet cancer - and his close friend and band mate John Barclay - who is in remission from stomach cancer - will hand over a cheque to Dr Russell Petty the scientist and clinician who treated them both.
The money will help further research into gastric (stomach) and oesophageal cancers – which are among the most rapidly rising types of cancer in Scotland and rates in Scotland are among the highest in the world.
A concert was held on February 26 in memory of Paddy, who lived in Inverurie and was a well known face in the local music scene, and tickets sold out in days.
It was the second time the concert has been staged and it has grown in size – almost doubling last year’s fundraising effort of £8,000 and bringing the total raised for the Grampian Gastroeosphageal Cancer Research Fund or GASTROCAN, which was set up by Dr Petty, to £23,000.
While advances have been made in treatment to control gastroeosphageal cancer, cure rates remain low especially in comparison to other cancer types.
A patient with breast cancer has an eight out of 10 chance of completely beating the disease, compared with just one in 10 gastroesophgeal cancer patients. Gastrosophgeal cancer is seen as a priority area for medical research and GASTROCAN supports local research work into the disease.
Paddy, who was a material controller with an offshore supply company, was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in September 2007 and lost his battle with the disease in January 2008, aged 63.
John, who played in various bands with Paddy over 25 years including The Epics — was also diagnosed with stomach cancer in June 2008 but is now in remission.
He played at the fundraising bash in Paddy’s memory with their band The Epics, while four other outfits also took to the stage at Garioch Sports Centre, Inverurie.
John, from Danestone, Aberdeen, said: “It was a fantastic night and we were absolutely delighted that so many people came along and helped us celebrate Paddy and raise funds at the same time.
“We wanted to raise money for Dr Petty because stomach and gullet cancers don’t seem to receive the same research funds as other cancers.”
Dr Petty, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Medical Oncology at the University of Aberdeen, and Consultant Medical Oncologist with NHS Grampian, added: “Our research projects include clinical trials of the latest drugs for gastroesophageal cancer patients and investigations into the causes of gastroesophageal cancer.
“We are also looking at the symptoms of the disease and how patients and GPs react to them and we are also exploring how new imaging and scanning techniques can be used to improve how the best treatment for patients is selected. A key aim of all our research is to move towards more personalised optimised treatment that has the best chance of success rather than the current ‘one size fits all’ approach”
“It is thanks to donations like this we can continue our fight against this rapidly increasing disease and, as a result of this generous donation from John and Joyce, we have been able to employ a research technician to support the team and have established The North of Scotland upper gastrointestinal cancer tumour bank as an invaluable resource for research.”
He said local fundraising efforts were making a real difference to the research his team is able to carry out.
“In February patient Nick Cook and his wife Janice, with the help of his employer E.ON Ruhrgas, donated £3,000 to GASTROCAN for which we were extremely grateful,” he added.
“As a result of the publicity for their donation, we have received a further 25 donations for GASTROCAN totalling £6,615.48. This total will be boosted with Gift Aid and the donations are still coming in yet.
“In addition, there are a number of people raising funds by taking part in Run Balmoral, which so far has raised over £3,000.
“All the money raised will be ploughed into our work here at the University of Aberdeen where we are trying to take breakthroughs in the lab and develop them into better treatments for patients with these types of cancer.”