Volunteer Profile - Lisa Trant

All the hard work that goes on behind the scenes at our events is supported by wonderful BCC volunteers. They are the heart and soul of our team and we are so grateful for their support.

Lisa Trant has been one of our loyal and active supporters for more than 10 years, so we had a chat with her to find out what it's like being a BCC volunteer.

What motivated you to volunteer for Breast Cancer Cure? 

I went to a Charity Event about 10 years ago for Breast Cancer Cure and saw the volunteers working - it was a time where I had been looking to give something back to the community and I guess the world. I signed up that night.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering for Breast Cancer Cure? 

I love working with the team, working behind the scenes to ensure that everyone we host has a great time and that we can raise as much as we can for the valuable research. And I love the commitment to find a cure!! 

What is it like volunteering at Fashion for a Cure? Any highlights or memorable moments? 

Volunteering is so satisfying to me - I work a busy job so, this puts me in a very different space, reminds me to be humble and kind to everyone. One memorable moment was volunteering at the Dunedin Fashion for a Cure - Petra Bagust the host and I were on the same flight and for about 30 mins we thought we were going to be diverted to Christchurch, meaning we wouldn’t make it in time!!!!! We did and it was all good, that was the night I met Debra Fallowfield an amazing Jeweller from Dunedin who had donated a ring to be auctioned off….. Go check out her website/Instagram  … I may or may not have bid on that auction that night ….:) 

Why did you sign up to be one of our very special Breast Cancer Cure Patrons? 

Every little bit helps!

Why did you choose Breast Cancer Cure as the charity you support? 

I wanted to give back and use a skill set I have - organising and people management organising the volunteers for events is something I love.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I don't think volunteers for organisations get the kudos they deserve - Breast Cancer Cure is very grateful for all of our volunteers and some of these events couldn’t happen without the kind nature of these folks - it's so satisfying to give back and to listen to folks stories. We also need more volunteers so if you know anyone who can help please let us know.

New Breast Cancer Research Funding Announced - Four Scientists Supported

Breast Cancer Cure (BCC), Breast Cancer Foundation NZ (BCFNZ) and the Health Research Council (HRC) are pleased to announce that funding has been offered to the following recipients through the Breast Cancer Research in New Zealand partnership. BCC has also made the decision to independently fund an additional piece of research with its focus on prevention. This call for applications was about supporting high-quality and innovative research into breast cancer in New Zealand to improve quality of life and, ultimately, ensure survival from the disease. The HRC BC partnership has now funded a total of 21 projects to the value of $3,869,390.

2019 Breast Cancer Research in New Zealand partnership recipients:

Dr Gavin Harris, Canterbury District Health Board Using deep learning and digital pathology to intrinsically subtype breast cancer
24 months: $249,650

Research summary:   

Digital pathology is the reviewing of tissue slides on a computer monitor rather than using microscopes. It is gaining momentum with anatomical pathology laboratories transitioning to this technology. In addition to increasing efficiency of pathologists to generate reports for clinicians treating breast cancer, digital pathology allows the application of computer algorithms that objectively quantify and standardise results. Studies have found that algorithms applied to digitally scanned slides can provide molecular data from breast cancer cases. This would otherwise require molecular testing, which not all patients can access due to cost. We wish to develop advanced machine-learning algorithms to automatically identify digital signatures of genomic changes in invasive breast cancers from tissue slides. This will be used to improve equity of access to testing and improve prediction of prognosis and response to treatment. The ultimate goal is to allow more tailored patient therapies to give the best clinical outcome possible.


Dr Annette Lasham, The University of Auckland
Validation of a liquid biopsy to predict recurrence in NZ breast cancer patients
18 months, $244,095

Research summary:   

Early detection of breast cancer recurrence is critical for saving lives. We have identified two molecules, found in the blood of 250 patients at the time of surgery for breast cancer, that were very good at predicting which of these women would have a relapse before five years. We now want to validate these molecules on a new group of 400 NZ breast cancer patients, to see whether these molecules could be used as a blood test to predict disease recurrence. We also want to see if we can combine information from this blood test with existing clinical and pathological tests, to give doctors and patients greater knowledge about their prognosis. We will use advanced statistics to determine what information to include in order to generate the best prognostic test. This information could guide treatment decisions or suggest a requirement for closer surveillance of patients following surgery for breast cancer.

Barbara Lipert, The University of Auckland
Validation of predictive biomarkers for T-DM1 activity in HER2+ breast cancer
24 months, $195,571

Research summary:   

The antibody-drug conjugate trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1; Kadcyla) extends the survival of HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer patients. However, both acquired and intrinsic resistance limit its effectiveness and there are no reliable biomarkers for predicting the tumour response to T-DM1. Applying advanced genetic methods, we have identified a panel of 612 genes that we hypothesise to be involved in T-DM1 resistance. Here, we propose to validate the pre-selected candidate genes to select those with the highest potential to modify T-DM1 activity. We will apply cellular and animal models to check how inactivation of these genes influences the response to T-DM1. Finally, we will correlate their activity with the oncologic response of breast cancer patients to T-DM1 therapy. In the long term, our work could be applied to identify breast cancer patients most likely to benefit from T-DM1 or those patients who are most likely to develop resistance.

Dr Logan Walker, University of Otago
Analysis of full-length transcripts for variant classification in breast cancer
24 months, $186,149

(Funded fully by Breast Cancer Cure)

Research summary:   

The future of successful genetic screening in New Zealand requires increased sensitivity and specificity of tests, and informed clinical management for high-risk breast cancer families.  

To date a lot of attention has gone on BRCA1/2 and that focus remains, however for this study the focus is on other high-risk breast cancer genes which currently do not reliably have the specificity that we need as we often identify variants of unknown significance. Using the latest technology (nanopore sequencing – a world first) which involves splicing the full length of the isoforms for BARD1, CDH1, CHEK2, PTEN, PALB2 and TP3, we expect to more reliably identify the necessary mutations. This will ensure that clinicians, the individuals affected and their families will be more likely to be able to take actions to reduce the likelihood of developing disease. How – through better surveillance techniques, treatments, surgery all in the hope of reducing the risk of advanced breast cancer. Two of the research team are members of an international expert panel (https://clinicalgenome.org/affiliation/50039/) who have been charged with developing rules for doctors so they can interpret genetic results. It is because of these linkages that their findings will be applied within clinical diagnostic settings around the world.

Identification of cancer-causing mutations in breast cancer susceptibility genes has well-defined and actionable implications for disease prevention. Of added value, outcomes from this research will also be integrated into international guidelines and as a result people globally will benefit. In the future this work can be extended to moderate and high-risk genes and also to better understand potential differences across Maori and Pasifika for whom there are currently no reliable norms.

Phillipa Green, CEO of Breast Cancer Cure comments, “Funding these distinctly different, but equally compelling research submissions is our reason for being. All the fundraising events, the networking, the conferences and the meetings comes down to this – putting money into the scientists and laboratories that are working hard to find ways to beat the devastating effects of breast cancer. We are delighted to announce these successful recipients co-funded with BCFNZ and HRC, but equally thrilled to announce an additional recipient who we will fund entirely through our own organisation. We believe this research will put us on a path to making breast cancer a survivable disease.”

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Pink High Tea

A great time had at the annual Harcourts Cooper & Co Greenhithe Pink High Tea.

The local Greenhithe community enjoyed an afternoon of decadent treats, bubbles, prizes and a live auction.

Thanks to Harcourts Cooper & Co, the Greenhithe Fire Brigade and the local community for raising over $25,000 to fund further research into breast cancer.

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A Collaboration of Fashion and Food

Sit back and enjoy the latest season’s collections from our favourite designers while feasting your senses!

Culinary superstar Simon Gault will take you on a gastronomical journey with a multi-layered dining experience like you’ve never had before.

A fully inclusive evening with drinks throughout, and a great time to gather your friends and book a table.

To find out more or to purchase your tickets click here

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A Special Gift Designed by Ruby for Mother's Day

The perfect gift would be to create a future for the next generation of Mums where breast cancer is a survivable disease.

This Mothers Day why not give a charitable gift? For every $100 donation to Breast Cancer Cure we will give back a Mini Heart Chain Choker designed by Ruby for the special Mum in your life.

Your donation will help protect our future generations from the fear of breast cancer.

Donate here

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Augustine Showcase For a Cure

On the 28th March 2019, for the first time in the Christchurch Augustine by Kelly Coe will showcase her latest collections from Augustine, Amaya, Charlo and Alaska Tees.

You will be hosted by Breast Cancer Cure Ambassador Petra Bagust while enjoying an evening of Fashion, a cocktail from Cardrona Distillery and a silent auction.

There are only limit tickets left!

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New Discovery Provides Potential Improvement in Breast Cancer Treatment Globally

Research Findings Published In Prestigious British Journal Of Cancer

New Zealand research scientists and clinicians along with collaborators in the United Kingdom, Singapore and China are a step closer to bringing a new clinical tool or biomarker, to guide clinical decision-making in the management of breast cancer, to market. 

A cancer-related protein, named SHON (secreted hominoid specific oncogene), has been demonstrated to be significantly associated with breast cancer’s response to treatment.  Not only can it accurately predict if a patient will benefit from endocrine therapy, but it can also predict a patient’s response to chemotherapy before surgical removal of the tumour. 

 Dong-Xu Liu, Associate Professor at AUT and the lead researcher of this study, received a $200,000 grant for his work from the Breast Cancer Research Partnership of the Health Research Council, Breast Cancer Cure and Breast Cancer Foundation NZ. Breast Cancer Foundation NZ gave two additional grants totalling $160,000.

 Liu says, “Breast cancer is curable if treated in a timely fashion and with the correct therapy. We might have found a way to improve the efficacy of endocrine therapy, the most widely- used breast cancer treatment for two-thirds of breast cancer patients.

 “We can now predict those who will not respond to the therapy and they may now receive alternative treatment improving their chance of survival from breast cancer and allowing them to lead a quality life after cancer.”

 These findings have the potential to change the current clinical practice of breast cancer management around the world.  In fact, doctors would have a reliable prognostic tool to use in their treatment decision-making process.  The research manuscript has now been accepted for publication in the British Journal of Cancer, a prestigious journal in the field.

 Liu continues, “Breast cancer affects one in nine New Zealand women in their lifetime and accounts for almost half of the cancers in NZ women.  Our findings would allow breast cancer patients to receive treatments that are the most appropriate to their characteristics, therefore improving treatment response and saving lives.”

 Annually there are 2.1 million new cases of female breast cancer around the world and despite improved treatment options it is understood that 626,000 women still die from the disease each year. It is also now known that breast cancer is not a single disease, but a complex group of diseases that are highly heterogeneous in their genotype, phenotype, sensitivity to treatment and clinical outcome.

 Liu says, “Our next step is to apply for funding for a feasibility study before conducting a randomised control clinical trial in the near future.  This is a pivotal point in the research and one we would not have achieved were it not for the support and funding we have received to date.  I am indebted to the people and organisations who have stuck with me through this long journey.”

 Phillipa Green, General Manager at Breast Cancer Cure, says, “It is hugely satisfying to fund a study of this nature as once the work is complete it will assist clinicians to tailor treatment more specifically to a patient’s cancer which will improve the outcome.  This is why we all fundraise – to ensure we can put money into life-changing research.”

 Evangelia Henderson, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, says, “Biomarkers and tests that predict with a high degree of accuracy how well a patient will respond to breast cancer treatment will play a huge role in reducing deaths. We look forward to seeing what happens next as a result of Dr Liu’s excellent study.”

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