Cheryl Pirecca

Cheryl Pirecca loves life. family, friends and lots of laughs make up her day. But it wasn’t always so. A diagnosis of a rare cancer, changed things for the happy-go-lucky Cronulla resident.

Her problems started four years’ ago for the mother of three and grandmother of four. Head and neck cancers are among the most common cancers, affecting thousands of Australians every year and the number is growing.

A cancer diagnosis is devastating enough. However after being treated successfully at St George Hospital, Cheryl was then told that her life would never be the same. As a result of the treatment that saved her life, Cheryl had side effects that would affect her quality of life.

“I had difficulty swallowing, the only food I could eat was pureed. It was awful. I couldn’t go out with friends and share special times with my family. I lost my independence, my confidence and my social life. It was like being told I had cancer all over again.”

Cheryl was referred to the Swallow Clinic at St George Hospital. The clinic had been conducting world- leading research into the side effects for people with head and neck cancers. This research is offering real solutions for these patients.

The research discovered that 47% of patients treated had swallowing problems. However most disturbing was that only half of these patients sought help for the condition. This is despite the fact that 20% of patients treated with radiotherapy had died as a result of complications from their swallowing dysfunction and many more had their quality of life severely impacted.

There was a remarkable change in Cheryl’s quality of life. The doctors at the Clinic gave her back her confidence and her life.

Most of us are completely unaware that we swallow about 1200 times a day and it is a highly complex activity that we take for granted. So just imagine what Cheryl’s life had become as this became the focus for her daily life. It is a serious medical condition leading to dehydration and poor nutrition and can be life threatening.

“I now understand why research is so important. My doctors are also researchers and they are the world’s best at solving the problem I had. Now I’m eating solid food again. I can go out to dinner and enjoy my time with friends and family. Research gave me my life back”.

I ask you to join me and pledge your support. Please click here to donate today, and join me to help people like Cheryl get their lives back.

Real life stories just like Cheryl’s happen every day at the St George and Sutherland Hospitals. As leading teaching hospitals in Australia, they have a strong reputation of delivering successful research and helping many thousands of people.

This research is being put into practise now and helping people every day. It is often ground breaking and world leading, and for many people like Cheryl it is literally life changing.

The St George and Sutherland Medical Research Foundation has a number of critical research projects which without your support will not get the funding they need. There are also many projects which are currently underway, which also need urgent funds to continue to get results.

With your generous support today, we can ensure that vital funds go directly to the doctors and health professionals to continue their research projects. This research is being conducted at the coalface within the hospitals and which is directly helping patients with practical solutions.

Please join me and pledge a monthly or one-off gift today, simply click here.

Thank you so much for taking the time to consider supporting medical research and the positive impact it has for people in your community and beyond.

Peter Christopher

SSMRF CEO