Struggles with childhood cancers are a reality for many Australian families and for the Lowry Family it has been no different, with Georgia Lowry experiencing many dark and sad times along that road to turning 21. We are privileged to be able to share the journey of this incredible family with you.
Turning 21 is a major milestone for most people and none more so than for Georgia Lowry. In June of this year Georgia will be celebrating in style with her family and closest friends with a small red carpet affair. Most 21 year olds may wonder what gifts may be coming their way upon such an auspicious occasion but not Georgia who is able to reflect on the greatest gift of all, life.
“Finally reaching this big milestone gives me a sense of achievement to be able to look back and realise that I have done quite a bit in my life so far,” said Georgia. “I set lots of goals and my current ones are to keep learning and exploring the working world for a meaningful and enjoyable job”.
Georgia was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive form of leukaemia at just eight weeks old, after her Mother Ann-Marie took her to the doctors for a check-up. She was given only a two percent chance of survival over the first five years. However, thanks to ongoing research that the Children’s Leukaemia and Cancer Research Foundation fund, through Professor Ursula Kees and the generous support of her family, Georgia is still with us 21 years later.
Ann-Marie knows how lucky the family has been to still have Georgia with them “…Shaun and I are so grateful for each and every day, week and year that we have to enjoy all our children but especially Georgia as her chances for a long and healthy life were so compromised from infancy. It’s almost unbelievable to appreciate that she has her 21st birthday in June…” Without her Sister Grace and Brother Tom and the strength of her parents, and if not for the continued research into infant childhood cancers, Georgia’s story may have been very different.
“We are a close family, like lots of country families, and being the middle child between my older sister Grace, who gave me two bone marrow donations when I was sick and Tom, who is the youngest, and who gave me the gift of his stem cells for using if the cancer ever returns means that they have both been really important in my life…”
The family is acutely aware of how continued funding into research of childhood cancers is extremely important. “We realise how critical it is to have curious and clever people engaged and rewarded for studying how cancer works and how best to stop it. Without research funding the discoveries wouldn’t be made and treatments improved thus allowing more children to ultimately survive and have better quality long term health” said Ann-Marie.
“Georgia is like an old friend who always goes back to visit the children’s hospital and its related departments – during her visits she tries to pop in to see Professor Kees and her research team and she has done lots of volunteering in an attempt to say thank you for the groundbreaking work that has helped to save her life.”
Georgia’s parents have discussed the option of filming the traditional 21st speech as in Ann-Marie’s words, “Shaun is a very emotional man at the best of times. If he does give the speech we know there will be many happy tears.” The amazing researchers of CLCRF are doing everything they can to find a cure for different childhood cancers, specially infant cancer, however there is still much more research needed.
The Australian government provides less than 1% of funding towards children’s cancer research so we need your help as “awareness + funding = research = cure. It’s that simple. So we’d like to ask for your help in making a donation to the foundation to continue the vital research into infant leukaemia and cancers.
When asked how they got through the last 21 years as a family, Ann-Marie responded, “We never ever have given up… there were many dark and sad times along the road but Georgia was so unaware, so delightfully happy and brave that we have merely followed her lead… she fills every day with action and energy and always something positive – she is a great role model and our inspiration”.