“Gastrointestinal cancer isn’t a cancer you can wrap up with a pink bow – there’s a lot of stigma attached to it and people don’t want to talk about it openly.”
So says Judy Honor, a member of the Australasian Gastrointestinal Trials Group (AGITG) Consumer Advisory Panel.
But Ms Honor, a GI cancer survivor herself, says the situation is changing – thanks in part to the work of the GI Cancer Institute.
Nicky Lancaster, Fundraising and Marketing Manager at the GI Cancer Institute, says this change is vital, with GI cancers representing a greater threat than any other form of cancer.
“GI cancers include cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas and bowel. They’re actually the most common form of cancer in Australia, claiming about 29 lives each day,” says Ms Lancaster.
“We hear a lot about breast cancer and skin cancer but GI cancers really need the spotlight on them too.”
Which is where the Gutsy Challenge comes in.
A fundraiser for GI cancer research, the Gutsy Challenge can be undertaken by workplaces, schools, clubs and individuals.
“There are many different ways to participate in a Gutsy Challenge,” says Ms Lancaster.
“Basically, you get people to sponsor you for the length of your challenge … you can take a fruit and vegetable challenge, host a healthy lunch or morning tea, or participate in a fun run or sporting event.”
Several workplaces in Sydney’s CBD have recently taken part in a Gutsy Challenge and now it’s the turn of VIVO Café in George St, which is owned by City of Sydney Councillor Angela Vithoulkas.
The café has restructured its entire menu to include healthier options and is even providing healthy recipes for customers to use at home.
Members of the public can also sponsor VIVO, with all funds going directly to the GI Cancer Institute.
“We can save lives by taking care of what we eat,” says Ms Vithoulkas. “The main ingredient in our Pappardelle pasta, for example, contains tomato – a significant source of lycopene, which helps prevent stomach cancers.
“Changing our entire menu is a gutsy move, but I think it takes guts to beat the most common form of cancer.”
To sponsor VIVO Café’s Gusty Challenge or to set up a Gutsy Challenge of your own, visit www.gutsychallenge.com.