Lynette Williams fought bravely for over two years following the diagnosis of a Glio Blastoma Multifome (GBM) Grade 4 in 2015. She succumbed to this hideous disease in April 2017. She had just turned 63. During this time, Lynette and her husband, Billy, were supported and cared for by the Brain Tumour Alliance Australia (BTAA) in Canberra.
Lynette and Billy were just beginning to enjoy the opportunities and variety that retirement offered them. When the diagnosis of a GBM was made, their world was turned upside down as it is for everyone on the receiving end of such devastating news. The hope was that a treatment would arrest the spread of the disease through access to a trial drug or radio-therapy. Sadly, but typically, this was not the case and there were no trials available at that time.
To honour Lynette’s life, Billy, in partnership with the Ghana Australia Association and the BTAA in Canberra, held an event in November 2017 to honour Lynette’s life in support of the work of the BTAA and an orthopaedic centre in Ghana which Lynette had supported when she and Billy lived there.
The event was successful in raising significant funds shared between both organisations. Billy had asked that the funds allocated to BTAA be directed towards a specific activity that involved support and care for brain tumour patients and carers.
Following discussions between BTAA and the Cooperative Trials Group for Neuro-Oncology (COGNO) in Australia, it was agreed to establish the BTAA Lynette Williams Award for the best ‘poster’ presentation focussed on support and care for brain tumour patients. There are sufficient funds for the award to be presented for ten years.
The ‘posters’ were judged by an independent panel at COGNO with the two winners announced during the recent COGNO conference held in Brisbane in October.
First prize ($600) was awarded to Ms Megan Jeon, for her poster ‘Prevalence and severity of difficulty sleeping in patients with CNS cancer receiving palliative care in Australia’. Ms Jeon is a PhD student at the South Western Sydney Clinical School, University of New South Wales.
Second prize ($400) went to Ms Lobna Alukaidey, for her poster ‘Longitudinal health related quality of life in patients with benign and low-grade brain tumours’. Ms Alukaidey is a medical student at the University of Melbourne.
Billy was present at COGNO for the announcement and presentation of the awards. ‘While the loss of Lynette has had a profound and lasting impact on me and my family, the legacy of Lynette’s life will support the provision of improved levels of support and care for patients with brain tumours, Billy said.
‘It is also good to know the award will give encouragement to young medical professionals to study and evaluate the impact of the disease, and also to raise the importance of care among medical professionals in oncology and related fields.’