LCIF Grant Funds Life-Saving Cancer Research in Australia

Gloom and rain don’t keep 13-year-old Jack from fishing with his grandfathers. What would have stopped him just a few years ago was aggressive cancer doctors weren’t sure he’d survive.

Jack’s first bout with cancer was a brain tumor. With surgery removing the growth, Jack’s cancer was eradicated. Just 18 months later, however, cancer returned, this time invading his spine, confining Jack to a wheelchair. As his disease progressed, Jack lost sight in one eye, began to lose sight in the other, and couldn’t eat. With treatment not working, doctors advised Jack’s parent to stop treatment…their son’s cancer was terminal.

Unwilling to give up, Jack’s family determined to keep him alive long enough to pursue groundbreaking treatment made possible by research through the Lions Kids Cancer Genome Project (Genome Project), offered in partnership with the Australian Lions Childhood Cancer Research Foundation and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, and funded, in part, by a 2016 grant to Australian Lions from Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF).

Enduring painful draining of his brain every three days, Jack received a change in fate. A breakthrough had finally arrived. Lion Dr. Joe Collins AM, childhood cancer research advocate, founder of the Australian Lions Childhood Cancer Research Foundation, and cancer survivor, connected with the family, offering Jack access to life-saving treatment.

The Genome Project sequenced genetic material of 400 children with cancer in Australia, giving doctors critical information to create personalized treatment plans to combat specific types and stages of cancer. Children like Jack, who first battled cancer at age nine, and again as a 10-year-old, are alive thanks to the Genome Project.

Said Dr. Collins, “Statistically, Jack shouldn’t be alive.” Yet within seven days of starting treatment, Jack was walking. Within 21 days, his eyesight returned. Within 45 days, he’d returned to school and fishing.

“It’s amazing he’s this active after such a difficult situation,” said Alex, Jack’s father. [Before the Genome Project], we had a one-in-a-trillion chance of finding the right treatment for him. Without the [LCIF] funding, this project never would have gotten off the ground, and we’d be having Christmas without Jack.”

In a special message to LCIF and Lions, Jack’s family wrote:

“Words cannot and will never express enough gratitude we have for everyone involved at Lions. Not only have you saved one child’s life, but there’s a ripple effect saving many more precious, sick kids. Jack was at a point of no return. We were desperate. Today, Jack is a strong, energetic boy living life to the fullest. Because of your generosity and dedication, many kids will be able to receive the correct, targeted treatment just like our lucky boy. Our heartfelt thanks.”

Worldwide, more than 300,000 children are diagnosed with cancer annually. Lions and Leos have long supported through service the needs of many of these children and their families, and LCIF has proudly empowered that service. In 2018, LCIF established the Childhood Cancer Pilot grant program to support projects addressing social and economic factors children and their families encounter during cancer treatment. To learn more about how LCIF grants help improve outcomes for children with cancer, visit