Matthew Fisher Sarcoma Research Fund
The story behind the Matthew Fisher Sarcoma Research Fund
The background story behind the Matthew Fisher Sarcoma Research Fund
It was Matt’s diagnosis of rhabdomyosarcoma in March 2020, which led to the formation of a special bond between the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation, this remarkable man and his precious family. This came to be after Matt's wife Naomi made contact with the Foundation in the early days after learning of his diagnosis.
2020 brought with it many challenges in the way we were forced to approach patient support, and as a result, our interactions with Matt and Naomi based in Canberra were all via technology, largely due to border restrictions, and Covid best practice. This did little to change the manner and outlook of the two positive, well researched and determined parents of two young children, who from the outset, took this adversity in their stride.
The privilege of working with Matt and his family, is difficult to articulate, and has resulted in many learnings after witnessing first-hand the humility and grace Matt, his wife Naomi and their extended families, especially his parents and sister in the UK, embraced the immense challenges along the way.
Matt is a gently spoken and understated man, who has continued to display courage and resilience of the highest order, whilst undergoing one of the most savage and gruelling treatment regimes.
Throughout his treatment in 2020, Matt continued to work as a chemical patent examiner and would research the patents on his chemotherapy drugs and relay what he found to his oncologist, who believed one was an invention stolen from Australia.
Matt’s oncologist is Associate Professor Paul Craft, who we are told is one of a kind, and who provided Matt with the highest standard of care, compassion and expertise. Always happy to pursue all available treatment options, and to think outside the square, Professor Craft, would always go to great lengths to ensure Matt was always heard, and wherever he could, his needs promptly actioned. Matt has always been in the very best of hands with a clinician who is not only highly accomplished, but who has an enormous heart. These unique traits made a world of difference to Matt and Naomi over the past year.
Professor Craft’s Nurse Coordinator Amber, was also an integral part of the stellar Canberra team. This role is often overlooked, however for the patient, it is a critical part of the process, removing a great portion of the burden from the patient and family.
The importance of early diagnosis for sarcoma patients is now globally recognised, and can impact the trajectory of sarcoma. A very special doctor at the Canberra Hospital emergency department, “Dr Nick” was not happy with the original scan results, and immediately referred Matt to the sarcoma specialist multi-disciplinary team. Given the rare nature of this cancer, and the fact a great number of doctors will never see a case over the course of their career, this was a pivotal decision to make for a young doctor.
Given Matt’s scientific research background, it was his wish to support the critical research required to change the current trajectory for patients living with a sarcoma diagnosis. 100% of this research fund will be directed to the forthcoming IL-23 sarcoma sub-study through the Garvan Institute of Medical Research. This study will be the first of its kind in the world, open to all sarcoma sub-types, and is due for commencement in the first quarter of 2021.
We wish to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Matt for this selfless gesture, and for this gesture to forever serve as a reminder of the difference his generosity will make to future sarcoma research, together with the hope it will provide for those patients who live with the uncertainty of a sarcoma diagnosis.
Should you wish to contribute to the Matthew Fisher Sarcoma Research Fund, which has been set up by Matt's colleagues, follow the link below.
It was with the deepest sadness CRBF learned of Matt's passing on the 8th January, 2021.
Matt's memory will continue to shine brightly, through his remarkable legacy, providing untold hope for those who walk this road behind him.