The Gut Cancer Foundation is delighted to announce the appointment of Briony O’Farrell as our latest ambassador.

After losing her father to pancreatic cancer in 2019, Briony has become a passionate advocate for those affected by pancreatic cancer. She has established the Pancreatic Cancer Aotearoa / New Zealand (PCANZ) support group for pancreatic cancer patients and their loved ones and recently played a key role in GCF’s “It’s About Time” pancreatic cancer awareness month.

GCF EO Liam Willis says, “We have been working closely with Briony for some time so I am thrilled that she has agreed to take on this role and become a key part of the GCF whanau. Her passion and drive to make a difference is inspiring and everyone here at GCF is looking forward to building on the fantastic work we have already done together”.

On taking up the role of ambassador, Briony said, “I am both delighted and honoured to accept the role of GCF Ambassador and see it as an excellent opportunity to further my work in raising awareness about cancers of the digestive system. After losing my father to Pancreatic Cancer in 2019, it has become my mission to help others affected by diseases of this type; to provide support, help to educate, raise awareness and of course, help to raise funding for research and clinical trials. With PCANZ and the GCF joining forces, I truly believe we are on a very promising pathway to helping our loved ones live their lives free of life-threatening gut cancers.”

This March, the Gut Cancer Foundation (GCF) is addressing these statistics by asking New Zealand to ‘GIVE IT UP’ for gut cancers. Kiwis around the country are being asked to give up alcohol, sugar or the sofa for the month of March with the aim of fundraising to help researchers find new ways to detect, treat and beat these cancers

But the GIVE IT UP campaign is about more than just raising funds for research, as important as that is. Executive Officer, Liam Willis, says, “Research has shown that obesity and excessive alcohol consumption are two factors which greatly increase the risk of developing a gut cancer. Research also suggests regular exercise could help reduce the chances of developing these diseases. Asking New Zealanders to raise money for research, whilst helping to reduce their own risks makes perfect sense.”

Anyone taking part in the GIVE IT UP challenge will be supported with tips and advice from the team at 4 Wheels of Health, the science based 4-week health education course created by acclaimed Kiwi chef Simon Gault and Metabolic Nutritionist, Sean Robertson.

“Gut health is one of the most fascinating and implicative areas of our health. This is your engine, and with a well-functioning engine comes a well-functioning vehicle”, said Robertson. “Spreading the message of why gut health is so important for our physical and mental wellbeing is part of why we do what we do, and why we are excited to partner with GCF and the GIVE IT UP challenge.”

If you are interested in signing up to ‘GIVE IT UP’ for gut cancer all the information you need is on https://www.giveitup.nz/

The Ministry of Health has released the latest cancer incidence statistics and the incidence of gut cancers or cancers of the digestive system is increasing year on year. 5423 New Zealanders were diagnosed with a gut cancer to the year-end 2018 (latest figures available) an increase from 5143 the previous year.

Collectively, gut cancers are the most common form of cancer in New Zealand. Within this group of cancers, the largest year on year increases in incidence are as follows: (Source: Ministry of Health)

Gallbladder & bile duct cancer 18.50%
Pancreatic cancer 12.25%
Bowel cancer 5.79%

Full details of the latest statistics can be found here.