Doctor puts his body on the line to help cancer patients
HIS patients’ pain and suffering will be Rockhampton doctor Matthew Burge’s motivation on his 26 day climb up Mount Himlung in May.
He is travelling to the Himalayas to climb the mountain to raise funds for gastric intestinal cancers.
Dr Burge said gastric cancers flew under the radar despite their low survival rate.
“We are trying to raise money for those cancers that receive less funding and less awareness,” Dr Burge said.
“There’s a lot of support for breast cancer but less for gastric cancers.”
In 2016, there were 1087 deaths due to stomach cancer in Australia.
The five year survival rate for stomach cancer is 30 per cent.
Dr Burge climbed Mt Aconcagua with a team of eight others in 2016 and together they raised thousands.
“Once we summated it was a success and we wanted something that’s a real challenge,” he said.
This time round they will climb 7000 metres without oxygen, which requires them to be in harnesses throughout the climb.
They hope to raise $150,000 to fund grants for trials to help those battling gastric cancers.
While Dr Burge isn’t a mountain climber he can’t imagine turning back before summating, even when he’s struggling.
“Seeing what your patients go through on a daily basis and then experiencing a bit of hardship yourself is good because you do it for them,” he said.
In his 15 year career he’s seen many patients lose their battle and the experience is a constant reminder for him to do more.
He is based in Brisbane but travels to Rockhampton regularly to work at the Mater.
“I combine my clinical skills to treat patients and develop clinical trials to try and improve treatment for patients because the only way you’re going to improve outcomes is to prove they work,” he said.
He will hold a fundraising event in Rockhampton in the coming months and urged people to get involved to help cancer sufferers.