As Stephanie crossed the finish line of Sydney's City2Surf run in August 2010, it was a modern miracle.
Not because the run was deadly. Not because she hadn't trained. But because at just 21 years of age she was diagnosed with leukaemia, and leukaemia can kill.
"When I was given the diagnosis, I wasn't even allowed to go home and pack my bags," she remembers. "I was just put into hospital and entered treatment immediately."
Why the urgency? Leukaemia is an aggressive form of cancer, causing a rapid increase in immature blood cells. Without immediate treatment, bone marrow is unable to produce healthy blood cells, and the malignant cells accumulate.
Around 3000 young Australians are diagnosed with leukaemia every year. Not all of them go on to run the City2Surf.
In the hands of the specialists of Westmead, Stephanie's treatment was successful. "I was able to beat leukaemia after a bone marrow transplant from my little brother," she says. "My doctors say that the chances I'll be sick with leukaemia again are less than 5 percent. I think that's just amazing."
In the lead-up to the City2Surf, Stephanie prepared a webpage dedicated to raising funds for Westmead Medical Research Foundation. She said her survival was only possible because of medical research and asked, simply, "Please help me raise money and save more lives."
The survival rates for leukaemia have increased from just 20 percent not long ago, to 80 percent today, through medical research. But, sadly, not all deaths from leukaemia can be prevented. Researchers at Westmead continue to strive for a cure.
"I hope people will give generously to the Foundation for this research," Stephanie says. "Without medical research, I'm not sure I'd still be here, living the life I have."
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