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As Vicki Smith entered her local Greymouth GP’s office with mild abdominal pain, she never thought it would end in an ambulance ride to Christchurch hospital and a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

After several scans and tests Vicki was told she would need surgery on her pancreas and spleen. While the surgery was a major one, she wasn’t worried about herself. At 74 Vicki was happy to have lived a fulfilling life which she had, in her own words “pushed to the limit”. Instead, Vicki’s concern was with her children, grandchildren, and extended family.

“I remember thinking Mum had this cancer, and so did one of her cousins.” Watching her mother go through a similar cancer journey, Vicki struggled with the thought that future generations of her family may suffer a similar fate. “My mindset was what can I do for my family?”

Vicki spoke with liaison staff at Christchurch Hospital and made enquiries as to how she could actively contribute to pancreatic cancer research. 

The Cancer Society Tissue Bank is a laboratory located in Christchurch Hospital that facilities research through gifted tissue. A first of its kind in New Zealand, this laboratory provides crucial tissue samples to research groups all around New Zealand and even internationally.

Staff from the Tissue Bank met with Vicki and explained the process of tissue donation to her. Vicki learned that there was already an existing enquiry from an Auckland-based researcher for her tissue sample.

“That gave me a warm feeling; that someone was interested and wanting to do research using my sample right now.’

When describing her motivations for donating tissue samples Vicki explains “I hope that donating my tissue for research will help in the development of tests leading to earlier diagnosis for pancreatic cancer.”

She hopes others in her position will consider gifting tissue, “It’s such a great opportunity to really contribute to the advancement of cancer research in New Zealand. The more information they have to understand the disease, the better chance we have of earlier detection, prevention and treatment.”

With the rate of cancer diagnosis set to increase substantially in the coming years, research becomes even more crucial. As well as improving outcomes for those with cancer, cancer research also provides us with hope.

The Cancer Society Tissue Bank is funded entirely through donations and could not exist without the kind support of people like you.

Thank you for supporting breakthrough cancer research and providing hope that our children, grandchildren, and future generations will be less impacted by cancer than we are today.