Middleton Grange cancer survivor an inspiration to all

ANNA Novak describes her mum as a "machine".

"I don't know how she stayed so strong, even through the chemotherapy — she was amazing," Ms Novak said, of her mother Hanna Kmita, who is now in remission after breast cancer.

Mrs Kmita, 62, of Middleton Grange, is featured in an Ingham Research Institute video which was launched at the Liverpool-based centre's Inaugural Hope Luncheon fund-raiser on Friday.

She said she would never forget her husband's face when she told him she had cancer.

"The look on his face has really stayed with me.

"It was devastating for the whole family. When you mention the word cancer people often see it as a death sentence."

Researcher Afaf Girgis told the audience at the luncheon about the institute's studies into the psychological impacts of cancer on suffers and their families.

"Psycho oncology is a vital component of cancer research that investigates the psychological, social and behavioural aspects of cancer — factors that are generally overlooked in cancer research but are of equal importance to investigating the physical impact of the disease," Professor Girgis said.

Ms Novak said her mother is the strongest person that she ever met.

"Your state of mind really helps with things.

"And she never gave up hope and had a positive attitude and that really helps you to be strong."

Mrs Kmita said her illness was tough on her whole family, but she encouraged them not to visit her when they were upset.

"When you're sick it doesn't help to see your family upset.

"I'm glad Ingham's is doing research on the psychological impacts of cancer. It's something that we haven't really talked much about, but it has an impact on the whole family.

"I want to support research as much as I can because without research they would not have found that a hormone I was producing was feeding my cancer.

"I underwent chemotherapy, radiation and then a mastectomy and now I'm in remission and I'm taking a hormone suppressant to control it."

The luncheon's master of ceremonies was Ingham Institute ambassador and Channel 9 host Lisa Wilkinson, who grew up in Campbelltown.

Held a day before International Women's Day, the event also honoured the female researchers at the institute.

Professor Girgis is leading two projects: Coping Together, a program which provides cancer patients and their partners with practical support resources and PROMPT-Care, which will allow patients to use tablets to report their condition to doctors.

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