John Turner has a vision for a future where there is a cure to cancer.
It is a hope for a future where cancer would be an inconvenience rather than a catastrophic illness that requires aggressive treatment and takes thousands of lives.
This dream is what has driven Mr Turner's massive $100,000 donation to the 2020 Ballarat Cycle Classic.
This funding, and all money raised by community through the major annual event, will go directly to establishing a new breast cancer research program at the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute.
Research through this new program could lead to a cure for all cancers.
Cancer is growing, it is not backing off. I really am hoping the people of Ballarat will take this fundraiser to heart and really contribute.John Turner, philanthropist
Mr Turner moved to Ballarat from Melbourne three-years-ago and almost immediately began undergoing chemotherapy and hormone treatment for prostate cancer on his arrival.
Three years on things are 'looking good' for the retired businessman and philanthropist, but cancer has been an emotionally and physically challenging journey through surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and hormone treatment.
"Surgery is not so bad but it is invasive and there are side effects with it, particularly with prostate cancer, and it can have a psychological impact on you," Mr Turner said.
"When you go through radiotherapy, which is the next course of treatment, there are side effects that can cause some damage internally to the body.
"Then when you go to hormone treatment and chemotherapy, it is not a very nice place to go. You are doing chemo for about six months - you get knocked around physically, mentally, you can't eat, you can't sleep, you lose your hair, your personality can change and it is just not a nice place.
"If we get a cure, we stop all that. We stop the whole three processes there."
FECRI has set an ambitious goal to raise more than $300,000 through the Cycle Classic to set up the breast cancer research program.
FECRI Director Professor George Kannourakis said a new focus on breast cancer could accelerate the institute's research into proteins on cancer cell surfaces.
FECRI already has a head start in this area of research thanks to a tissue bank facility that has been developed at the site throughout the past 21 years.
The tissue bank has enabled researchers to hone in on the proteins that are forming on the surface of the cancer cells and eliminate the 'background noise' - all the other proteins that are not involved in the cancer spread.
Researchers have sent proteins identified through this research to the United States where they are working on developing new antibodies for them.
Professor Kannourakis said all cancers have sets of proteins on the surface of cancer cells that evade the immune system - they form a 'fog' around the cancer cells that stops the immune cells from getting to them and getting rid of them.
"By producing antibodies to those proteins you can lift the fog off the cancer to the degree where the immune cells will actually attack them and get rid of them," he said.
While immunotherapy currently exists to attack specific proteins, more research needs to be done to identify the other 10 or so proteins that can be present on cancer cells making up individualised 'barcodes'.
Once these proteins are identified, the next step is to create antibodies for each of them that could then be used to create a cure.
Professor Kannourakis said this would transform approaches to cancer.
"You might come in with a little lump, we will do a biopsy and you will turn out to have a particular barcode because we know what proteins to look for once we have identified the whole lot," he said.
"Once we have done the barcode we then say to you 'well we have these antibodies that will take care of those four proteins that are produced by your particular cancer and we are going to give you these cocktails of these four antibodies rather than going for big surgery, radiation or chemotherapy'."
Professor Kannourakis said a cocktail of antibodies could be used to treat people's cancers, rather than major surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and immunotherapy.
"That is a huge challenge. I am not saying we are going to achieve the whole lot but we are going to kickstart that area. Once we start I think others will also start to add as we are going along," he said.
Mr Turner said he wanted the community to get behind the Cycle Classic to help reach its fundraising goal.
"We want the community to take note and to give, because sooner or later every family in Ballarat and district will be affected by cancer in one form or another, whether it be a family member or a friend or a relation, it is going to happen," he said.
"Cancer is growing, it is not backing off. I really am hoping the people of Ballarat will take this fundraiser to heart and really contribute. Also for the wealthy individuals, we want them to stack up to."
Registrations are open at ballaratcycleclassic.com.au.
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