‘I’ve reached milestones I never thought I’d see’: How donating to research gives valuable time to cancer patients like young mum Fiona 

The time that cutting-edge cancer research has afforded Fiona Rynott means her two youngest kids won’t have to rely on photos to get a sense of their devoted mother’s personality. 

Four years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, which metastasised to her liver and then brain, the 39-year-old is eternally grateful for every extra second she gets with her family. 

“That’s why I want to share my story and help raise funds for more research – because that’s the only way to discover more treatments and give people more time,” Fiona says. 

The courageous mother-of-three is the face of Australian Cancer Research Foundation’s annual Tax Appeal campaign. She hopes her journey will inspire Australians to make a tax-deductible donation that will help give people like her more time with their loved ones 

Fiona’s youngest child, Zac, was just eight weeks old when she received unfathomable news. 

After being admitted to emergency with persisting pain in her upper abdomen while in Perth for a friend’s wedding in November 2018, Fiona was found to have 30 cancer lesions in her liver. 

Further tests revealed the primary cancer site was a lump in her breast initially thought to be mastitis. The cancer soon moved to her brain and sadly Fiona lives with this terminal diagnosis today. 

“The doctor was talking and talking about what type of cancer it was and what my options would be, but I couldn’t hear anything,” Fiona recounts. 

“I just sat there in shock. All I could think about was our children.” 

With so much more to live out with her family, Fiona simply “doesn’t have time for cancer” and threw herself into various treatments in order to make as many memories as possible with her loved ones. 

Despite side-effects including hair loss and debilitating fatigue, Fiona has continued to work full-time at Downer Group and enjoys her faced-paced role as executive assistant to the National General Manager. 

“I’ve reached milestones I thought I’d never see,” Fiona adds. 

“But one after the other, the treatments have stopped working and the cancer has kept spreading. It’s in my brain now and I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel with treatment options.” 

She recently participated in a clinical trial she says has “given me another 18 months”. 

Fiona recently ticked off a bucket list item by travelling around Australia with her family. Her next goal is to be here to celebrate her 40th birthday next February. 

Looking ahead, she hopes her advocacy for cancer research will define her legacy. 

And with Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) providing grants that allow esteemed scientists to supercharge their research through next-generation technology, your tax-deductible donation could lead to a breakthrough that saves lives. 

For example, a $1.5 million grant was made in 2021 to establish the exciting ACRF Molecular Theranostics Laboratory at the Centenary Institute in Sydney, where researchers will explore new approaches which could provide more time to people like Fiona with advanced cancers. 

“An exciting and emerging field, Theranostics has the potential to revolutionise cancer treatment,” said Professor Philip Hogg, Chief Investigator, ACRF Molecular Theranostics Laboratory. 

“Theranostics has proven to be at least 29% more effective than standard therapy – this approach represents an exciting advancement in cancer research,” ACRF CEO Kerry Strydom explains. 

“The ACRF Molecular Theranostics Laboratory will undoubtedly produce some amazing outcomes for cancer patients – and it wouldn’t have been possible without donations. 

“I urge Australians to dig deep and make a tax-deductible donation to our Tax Appeal campaign. Your contribution can help give more precious time for someone like Fiona. 

“Your donation will back brilliant cancer research in Australia, as we continue to strive for our vision of a world without cancer – because people like Fiona, deserve a future with their loved ones.” Donate today.