We were all having a lovely afternoon until we heard the statistics.
There were ten of us seated together, supporting the Hospital Research Foundation by attending a fundraising lunch at the Adelaide Zoo.
In a panel discussion on the main stage, researcher Associate Professor Wendy Ingman revealed the latest numbers on breast cancer – one in eight women will be diagnosed in Australia during their lifetime.
That meant one of us on Table 4. Gulp. Confronting.
Happily, when pressed on the future of breast cancer, Wendy expressed her confidence that these statistics would improve markedly in the next ten years thanks to current medical research happening around the world.
Relieved applause filled the room.
Wendy’s main research focus is where the breast and the immune system collide – in particular, how immune cells known as macrophages play a role in controlling breast function.
Wendy and I actually have a love of macrophages in common – we completed PhDs together looking at macrophages; not in the breast, but in the uterus and ovaries.
Wendy’s story is a great example of ‘skilling up’ in one field, and then applying what you’ve learnt in a new place – once you learn the tools to find and describe macrophages in one organ, you can readily apply these to focus on other areas of the body.
It’s like learning to work on cars by pulling apart an old Volkswagon, and then later in your life remodelling a Porsche. Same skills, applied anew.
[image thanks to khrawlings on flickr]