A LIVE music event at Westernport Yacht Club this month will feature three hours of entertainment, with all proceeds going to research into diet and cancer.
The event has been organised by non-for-profit Nutrition Biomed Research Institute, a research organisation that aims to bring diet to the forefront in the fight against cancer.
Spokesperson Dr Maree Brinkman said that diet was generally not part of the standard overall management and care of a patient’s cancer diagnosis and treatment, despite links between diet and illness.
“While it can vary according to different body sites, it has been estimated that diet contributes to around 30-35 per cent of all cancers, and so we believe it can play a significant role in the prevention and management of the disease,” she said.
Brinkman’s move into the area of cancer research began years ago when her father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“I had never thought much about diet and health until my early 30s [and] I remember seeing my mother who was normally a very strong and capable woman beside herself with anxiety in the family kitchen not knowing what food she could offer my dying father who was wasting away,” she said.
“Dad subsequently died a few months later from the disease when I was three months pregnant with my second child.
“I remember thinking that I don’t want to ever be in that position of feeling totally helpless and not being able to provide the nourishment my family and loved ones needed. And so, once my children were school age, I went back to my studies and completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in nutrition, a Master of Nutrition and Dietetics, and a PhD in Biomedical Sciences.”
Brinkman says the decision was prescient as her own husband, Wens Brinkman, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in his early 50s.
“While I had planned a full-time career in research, I turned my attention to his care and clinical dietetics to also help others with a cancer diagnosis too,” she said.
“Wens had a 10-year battle with his cancer and we found that making the right dietary choices while he was undergoing all his various treatments – surgery, chemotherapy and radiation – helped to minimise the side-effects from his treatment and disease, and helped to improve the quality and possibly even the duration of his life.
“Wens sadly passed away at the start of the first wave of COVID during the lockdown in April 2020, but he had always dreamed of helping other cancer patients. He had been a big advocate of bowel cancer screening as well the physical and mental health benefits of healthy lifestyle modifications, such as enjoying a nutritious diet and keeping active with regular exercise in conjunction with his medical care.”
A couple of years before Wens died, he helped to set up the not-for-profit research organisation Nutrition Biomed Research Institute, along with a small team of dedicated individuals. The team at NBRI has continued to work to fulfill his dream of bringing diet to the forefront in the fight against cancer by working to make it part of the standard multidisciplinary care of a cancer patient through evidence-based research.
NBRI has worked alongside other large research institutions both nationally and internationally on projects relating to diet and cancer, many of which have been published in scientific journals. The team has also been conducting its own innovative quality research projects on diet and cancer and currently has several papers that are in various stages of development and publication.
Up until the pandemic closed down travel, NBRI had academic placements for two Masters of Health Science students from Maastricht University in the Netherlands. The results of both students’ work from their time of working at NBRI have been published in scientific journals.
NBRI plans to work with more Australian and international health science students again now that the COVID restrictions have ended.
Other work done by NBRI is to inform the public of the latest scientific evidence on diet and disease via social media, blogs and presentations to community and cancer groups.
All proceeds from the live music concert will go to NBRI’s research projects on diet, genetics and advanced prostate cancer.
Entry is a tax deductible $50 donation and includes performances by Bobby Valentine and the Lavamen, as well as local Lauren Elizabeth. Light, healthy snacks and lucky door prizes will also be available with drinks at bar prices.
The concert is 2pm-5pm Saturday 15 April at the Westernport Yacht Club, Balnarring Beach.