Jordan, Beth, Krista and Ben Fairbank.
Jordan, Beth, Krista and Ben Fairbank. Contributed

Relay a chance to build positive family legacy

LOSING one family member is hard enough, but Cottonvale woman Beth Fairbank has dealt with the loss of three brothers, one sister and her father all to cancer.

Mrs Fairbank is participating in the Warwick Relay for Life, to raise awareness for Lynch syndrome, a genetic disorder that is not rare, just under diagnosed.

The syndrome is inherited, where a certain gene mutation makes the person more susceptible to cancer at a younger than average age.

"Relay for Life has a personal meaning for so many people, and for me, it has that and more," Mrs Fairbank said.

"Because my father had Lynch syndrome, each of his children have a 50% chance of having the mutated gene.

"I have it and now each of my three children have a 50% chance...it doesn't skip generations.

"Out of my children, one has it, one doesn't and one has to wait until he's 18 years old to be tested".

Mrs Fairbank said there were many families like hers.

"It is thought that only 5% of those with Lynch syndrome have been diagnosed, and the rest are left vulnerable and unaware," she said.

"If you have it, you have up to an 85% chance of colon or rectal cancer or a high percentage of getting other various cancers."

"I have lost 15 members of my extended family with cancer including from my immediate family, cousins, aunts and uncles. Over my whole family, there have been 37 cases of cancer."

Mrs Fairbank's family was only formally diagnosed with Lynch syndrome last year, and she has started an organisation to raise awareness.

"I'm trying to educate people and medical professionals...there are not many GPs out there who know about it," she said.

Mrs Fairbank said that there was hope for people with Lynch syndrome

"You do have a chance, it's just a matter of surveillance," she said.

"You've got to stay on top of things and you can live a pretty normal life.

"It's mainly knowing your family history, and annual surveillance with colonoscopies, endoscopies and ultrasounds to get the tumours and polyps before they become life-threatening.

"If you have a family history of the same or different types of cancer, see a geneticist."

Team Lynch Syndrome Australia will be at Warwick's Relay on September 7.

 

EDUCATION

Anyone who would like more information on hereditary cancers is invited to see the team at the relay or visit lynchsyndrome.org.au.



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