How to honour a woman battling cancer

Harry Perkins Institure Research Associate Daphne Lakhiani. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au   d491235
Harry Perkins Institure Research Associate Daphne Lakhiani. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d491235

FOR Nedlands research associate Daphne Lakhiani, the memory of her watching her aunty die of breast cancer will forever be her motivation at work.

The 33-year-old, who works for The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, was just 12-years-old when she saw her aunty lose her battle a year after diagnosis.

More than 10 years later, the UWA Biomedical Sciences graduate, who has a PhD in Oncology and Cancer Biology, received more devastating news.

Her mother was diagnosed with the same disease; thankfully, this time the outcome was different.

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“When my aunty was diagnosed I didn’t know too much about the disease, all I knew was that a year later she died; she was 42 at the time,” she said.

“We are a close family, so it was really hard to watch my mother lose her sister, my cousins lose their mother and my grandmother lose her daughter.

“But more than 10 years later my mum was diagnosed and she has survived, so the difference between the two is that research has come such a long way.”

Research of which forms part of her job today and motivates her to make a difference.

“Knowing the work I’m doing is going to make a difference some day, that’s the real driver for me coming into work every day,” she said.

“Because of my history, I know what it’s like to lose somebody, I also know what it’s like to have somebody where you feel like you are going to lose them and not, that’s my motivation.”

In May, Miss Lakhiani will join the 35km Walk for Women’s Cancer in honour of her mother, aunty and women who are fighting the disease.

“I saw my mother go through chemo, radiation and surgery, so in my mind 35kms is nothing,” she said.

“It’s one day of suffering compared to what she went through over an entire year.”

As well as a world without cancer, Miss Lakhiani would like to see women stand up for what they believe in on International Women’s Day and acknowledged those who helped her get to where she is today.

“I’ve had good guidance along the way from strong women in the field, including Professor Ruth Ganss and Accelerating Australia executive officer Maud Eijkenboom – they’ve been a huge inspiration to me,” she said.

“Them and my mother who fought cancer and won, she along with aunt are the reason I’m doing what I do today and this International Women’s day I honour them.”

The Walk for Women’s Cancer is on Saturday May 4, to register or donate visit www.walkforwomenscancer.org.au.

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