Finding hope and a future in research

Samantha HansfordSamantha Hansford has seen 2 generations of her family diagnosed with a rare form of hereditary stomach cancer. With hereditary cancers, a person inherits a particular gene mutation that makes them more susceptible or predisposed to developing cancer.

As a teenager growing up in St John’s, Samantha lost her aunt to stomach cancer. Her grandmother, who had already survived breast cancer and lost 7 siblings to either breast or stomach cancer, was diagnosed with stomach cancer the same year.

“My aunt was first diagnosed in 1997 and only got part of her stomach removed. What we did not know then was that her cancer was hereditary so, in 2001, the cancer returned and this time it was fatal,” says Samantha.

With funding in part from the Canadian Cancer Society, Dr David Huntsman from the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver was able to study more than 80 families in Newfoundland with the disease, including Samantha’s family. He discovered specific mutations in a gene called CDH1 that greatly increase the risk of developing hereditary stomach cancer.

In a relationship that has come full circle, after completing her degree in biochemistry, Samantha went to work with Dr Huntsman in his lab studying families who carry this genetic mutation.

“My mother, uncle, grandmother are alive thanks to the research! This work saves lives every day, and it is thanks to Canadian Cancer Society donors and alike that it has made such a huge impact around the world,” says Samantha.

Last year, 60% of high-priority research projects went unfunded because of the money we had available. Help us fund more life-saving research by donating today.