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A reason for Zach to hope

19 January 2022

Zach with beanie on

Coping with cancer is hard enough. Coping when there is no known cure is even harder.

The most effective way to treat an individual's cancer is to personalise their treatment based on their cancer type, its stage and the individual's own genetic make-up. This is why cancer research is so crucial to advancing our understanding of cancer and shaping the future of cancer treatment.

There's a lot of cancers out there that need a lot of funding and research. But for me, it would probably mean that I'd get my life back. I’d get to live a lot longer and be able to, I guess, plan the future.

- Zach

It's precisely thanks to support like yours that Peter Mac researchers have been able to make such amazing strides in recent years and why Zach has hope for the future.

Zach is an inspiring young man.

Despite being diagnosed with a rare type of head and neck cancer, he continues to maintain a relentlessly positive outlook. We hope that - in reading his story - you'll find yourself inspired too.

A rare diagnosis

When Zach and his girlfriend May were referred to Peter Mac in late 2020, Zach's prognosis was not good.

Zach had been diagnosed with one of the rarest cancers in Australia. A head and neck cancer called nasopharyngeal carcinoma that grows in the passage between the nose and the mouth. Despite being successfully treated for it ten years ago, his cancer had unfortunately returned and had spread to his lungs.

It was devastating news to Zach and May, but there was still hope.

Zach and May on bed

Zach and his girlfriend May during his treatment

After being referred to Peter Mac, Zach began undergoing several treatments in the hope of finding one that would be effective against his cancer. Over the next year, Zach went through a variety of challenging treatment options.

His cancer didn’t respond. 

He was very strong, much stronger than I was going through it. He stayed really positive throughout everything and that helped me stay strong for him as well.

- May

And yet - impressively - despite the numerous setbacks, Zach and May continued to maintain a wonderful zest for life and hope for the future.

Living with hope

If you ever meet Zach, what you’ll see is a young man with his whole life ahead of him.

Since moving to Australia from Malaysia, Zach has built himself a wonderful life with May in Melbourne. A life he fully intends to keep on living.

Zach and May standing together

In the ten years since my first cancer diagnosis I’ve built a great life in Melbourne with my girlfriend May. I played footy with my friends every Saturday, saw so much of the world travelling and spent Christmas the way I love – with my family in Malaysia.

- Zach

From day one, Zach and May have been determined to maintain a positive outlook on everything. Taking each day as it comes and making sure to celebrate even the smallest things together.

Even when faced with such a daunting cancer diagnosis and undergoing challenging treatments, the couple still participated in a 5km fun run (with a little walking) and helped raise over $11,000 for Peter Mac’s vital cancer research!

Zach and may on boardwalk

Zach and May, Peter Mac Champions!

As you can see, there is very little that can keep Zach down.

So we are very happy to report that Zach’s cancer has been responding to his latest round of treatment, with his tumour reducing by 50%!

This may be the answer to extending Zach’s life but there is no promise that this treatment will save him from his cancer altogether.

Zach is far from out of the woods with his diagnosis, but he and May remain hopeful that a cure can be found.

I think knowing that there could be a cure, if there is a cure one day, that gives people hope.

 - May

Thank you for your messages of support

You may remember that we recently shared Zach’s story with you last Christmas and his hope for a cancer research breakthrough.

Ever since then, we've received an outpouring of support for Zach and May, who are extremely grateful for all your kindness.

Read Zach's beautiful letter to Peter Mac supporters below:

“It seems like only yesterday that I was sharing my story with Peter Mac supporters like you.

If you know my story, you might remember that I have a rare type of head and neck cancer. When I was diagnosed, I learned that there was no proven way to cure my cancer – all because research hadn’t yet led to the breakthroughs needed to save my life.

I’m still not cured. But I am alive.

I just wanted to say a massive thank you – I received so many wonderful messages of support from Peter Mac donors this past Christmas. They really did mean so much to my girlfriend May and I, so thank you.

More cancer research is needed to give people like me hope for the future. I have so much that I want to achieve this year – the research that you’re helping to fund gives me hope I’ll live long enough to accomplish everything I want, and set goals for next year too.

I’m just really grateful. Thank you. Every dollar counts when it comes to research.

Your gifts and messages mean people like me, living with cancer, have hope that we can get our lives back."

- Zach

Zach and may double image

Your kind support gives us all hope for discovering more life-saving cures for all cancers.

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