A special invitation – Australian Cancer and Health Sciences Symposium and Competition

Pictured above (L-R): Amy Dehghan, Sophie Galea, Kera Jeong, Zack Maradeen, Angie Zhou.

During the last week of Term 3, QAHS Year 10 students participated in our first ever Australian High Schools Cancer Challenge.  A special invitation for this event was extended to QAHS through Alumna Claire Livingstone (2017 graduate) who is now studying at the University of Melbourne and is involved in coordinating the event. The ACHSC is Australia’s premiere science event for high school students to learn about cancer and medical research. This challenge is divided up into a Symposium held in Melbourne, and a Competition paper.  Bright and early on Thursday morning, 5 Year 10 students joined Mrs Rebgetz and Mrs Mitchell on a day trip to Melbourne to attend the Symposium held at the prestigious Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.  Here the students gained first hand insight into the latest discoveries in cancer research.  We heard from an incredible array of medical professors about their latest work, including the use of 3D printing to assist with limb reconstruction for cancer survivors.  Students were able to connect with breast cancer survivors and listen to their journey from diagnosis to remission, with the opportunity to ask questions about their real-life experiences with cancer.

Once back on the Gold Coast, the following day 25 Year 10 students sat the Australian High School Cancer Competition.  Whilst the syllabus was challenging, the prize on offer is incredible.  The top performing students in the HSCC will be offered a week-long research internship at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute in Heidelberg, Victoria.

Here are accounts from Amy and Zack who attended the Symposium in Melbourne.

The symposium was held at the Walter and Eliza Research Centre where they invited cancer researchers, doctors and patients to present their findings and encounters with cancer. I found the speakers very interesting and it really showed me things I didn’t know before. From this, I gained a better understanding of cancer and all of it behind the scenes. The patients at the symposium were open with their experiences through cancer, how they overcame it and how it affected their lives. This was so inspiring and for them to feel so comfortable to talk about those hard times really shows me how much stronger they are and how cancer has deeply affected their lives. This opportunity was unbelievable! To be able to talk to them showed me how I can help those people around me that are also diagnosed with cancer.

We were also given lab tours and a Q&A session with current PhD students which broadened my ideas in terms of what I wanted to pursue in my future. Overall, the cancer symposium was unique and made more people aware and understand cancer better which is beneficial to help our community.
Amy Dehghan -Year 10

On Thursday 20 October, other Year 10 students and I attended the Australian High School Cancer Symposium. This experience was highly enlightening for all of us. We were educated by practising medical researchers on some of the most cutting-edge and in-development cancer treatment and prevention techniques. This opportunity provided us with an extension to the AHSCC cancer syllabus, going beyond the mandatory knowledge for the cancer competition and pushing our learning to greater depths. One of the main stand-outs of the cancer symposium was its focus on patient experience. There were multiple times throughout the day where we heard from cancer survivors around the impacts it had on them and how they were able to turn their traumatic experience into a positive one: through learning, community involvement and self-motivation. These talks inspired all of us to be more informed on what cancer sufferers go through daily and the sacrifices that they must make to become cured. As a result, we all were better educated, informed and motivated to be more active in the cancer awareness and treatment community going forwards and realised that an issue as large as cancer is not confined to an hour-long test but is instead a problem which will continue to plague us and educate us for many more years to come.
Zack Maradeen – Year 10

Mrs Melissa Mitchell
Biology Faculty