Who We Are
GISTs (Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumours) are malignant tumours of soft tissues in the gastro-intestinal tract (the stomach and intestines). They are a kind of sarcoma, which is a very rare type of cancer. Around about 2% of tumours in the gastrointestinal area are GISTs.
GIST Support UK is a charitable trust formed in April 2009. We are here to support GIST cancer patients, fund research into GIST, improve treatments and find a cure for this rare cancer. We receive no government funding and are run by a board of volunteer trustees who have a close association and experience of GIST cancer (see below).
We are the only UK based charity solely devoted to GIST cancer.
We are a network of GIST cancer patients & carers working with top GIST specialists & National/International groups, to promote best practice. We exist to help GIST patients and their families come to terms with living with GIST cancer and we raise funds to:
- Stimulate & fund research
- Support Patients living with GIST cancer
- Provide Information for GIST patients and their clinicians
- Raise awareness of GIST cancer
We have been working hard to establish an infrastructure here in the UK that will help to stimulate research into GIST. In recent years we have helped to re-write and update the National GIST Guidelines and establish the National GIST Tissue Bank and also the PAWS-GIST clinic at Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge. All of these things help to stimulate research and our work continues...
This site is primarily for GIST patients and their carers. Most of the content is provided by patients but is vetted for accuracy by our Medical Advisory Board. We value your feedback so please feel free to email us at email@example.com with your comments, corrections and additions.
GIST Support UK is currently managed by the following Board of Trustees:
Nic Puntis, Chair
I was diagnosed, just before my 40th birthday, in March 2010, with a 8cm GIST in my stomach. It was successfully removed but found to be high risk due to its mitotic count. I was therefore, put on adjuvant imatinib for 3 years. I am still disease free and am checked every year.
I went to my first GSUK meeting in 2010 and volunteered to join the Trustee board in 2012, becoming Chairman in 2015.
Jayne Bressington, Vice Chair & Patient Director for PAWS-GIST (pawsgistclinic.org.uk)
When my 15 year old daughter was diagnosed with Paediatric/Wild-type of GIST it was the worst news our family had ever received. Very little was known/available to patients with this diagnosis in the UK. In June 2010 we attended the Paediatric, Wild-type GIST Clinic in Washington DC, hosted by Dr Su Young Kim and Dr Lee Helman. Inspired, I felt determined that UK patients should also have this facility.
Encouraged by GIST Support UK, with fundraising from families, friends, supporters and with the dedication of Dr Ramesh Bulusu, we have opened a specialist clinic for Paediatric, Adolescent, Wild-type and Syndromic GIST patients in the UK. We host three PAWS-GIST clinics each year at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge. Patients can register to attend the clinic on the clinic web site www.pawsgistclinic.org.uk
Essential bi-products of this initiative have been the establishment of the National GIST Tissue Bank and the National GIST registry in the UK, stimulation of GIST research projects and support of GIST clinical trials.
My beautiful daughter Eve tragically lost her battle with this monster disease aged only twenty three. As Vice Chair of GIST Support UK, I work to improve understanding of this disease, identify specific/effective treatments and improve the outcomes for all GIST patients. The only satisfactory result for GIST and PAWS-GIST cancer is a cure.
Sheena Kynoch, Secretary
“This year (2020) I will become a nineteen-year survivor of GIST cancer”
I was diagnosed with GIST of the stomach in 2001 and in June of the same year had a partial gastrectomy. In June 2003 metastatic lesions were observed in the liver. I was immediately put on imatinib in the hope of shrinking the tumours and by the time I had an operation to remove them in September 2005 they appeared to be completely cystic; no living cells were found. I continued to take imatinib until October 2015. To date I remain tumour free.
Surviving nineteen years from diagnosis of a disease which a few years earlier would have been fatal is truly miraculous. I attribute this to the development of imatinib and the skill of the medical team in charge of my care. For those with a more recent diagnosis of GIST cancer the science has developed even further.
I have been given eighteen more years to share with my husband; seen our son married and given me precious time with our two grandchildren aged 10 and 6 years. No-one could be more blessed.
I have been a trustee of GIST Support UK from its inception in 2009 and since then have been secretary to the charity. Our aim is to find a cure for GIST cancer.
David Falconer, Treasurer
I spent many years in the pharmaceutical industry, primarily in Oncology. For over 10 years I was specifically involved with sunitinib which is used as a treatment for GIST. During this time I interacted with many of the leading clinicians and health care professionals in raising the profile of the disease area and was involved in a variety of clinical trial and research work.
Victoria Bassett, Fundraising & Social Media
I became a trustee of the charity during my involvement in the campaign to reinstate Regorafenib to the cancer drugs fund in 2015. Prior to this I raised funds for GIST Support UK, particularly the PAWS-GIST initiative in various events; abseils, cycle rides, and running the London marathon. My husband fell ill whilst we were on holiday and was diagnosed with a wild-type GIST at the age of 21. He’s been taking Sunitinib for several years which has prompted my interest in side-effect management (please get in touch if you have ideas/would like advice). Outside of the charity I work full-time as a research scientist at Lancaster University, with a focus in environmental science.
Terry Weldon, Listserv and Help Line
I am a GIST patient who takes a lead supporting patients on our private online patient forum (Listserve) and am also one of our helpline team supporting patients and carers from a first hand perspective.
GIST (Gastrointestinal stromal tumour) is a rare cancer, one of the sarcomas. Because it is so rare, patients can experience the diagnosis and treatment a bewildering, solitary experience without suitable support from others in a similar situation. GIST Support UK offers exactly that support, for patients and their family/carers. I have found the patient/carer days an excellent, very valuable opportunity to learn more about the condition from expert clinicians, and to meet and chat with others - some have been living with GIST for many years, some newly diagnosed. For anyone dealing with GIST, especially for the first time, I strongly recommend attending. It has helped me enormously.
James Palgrave, IT Support
I was diagnosed with stomach GIST in June 2016 and the charity helped me come to terms with it. At the time I was deciding to go into semi-retirement so I decided to use my Engineering skills to help the charity with their IT needs and now I look after the email, database, website etc.
After successful surgery in 2017 following tumour reduction with imatinib treatment, six months later metastases appeared in liver which were kept under control with second line treatment sunitinib for eight months until that failed and I’m now on third line treatment regorafenib which has stabilised the tumours.
Stella Turner, Fundraising & Volunteer Support
Stella has close family friends whose lives have been impacted by PAWS-GIST.
She supports events and fundraising activities while also co-ordinating GIST Support UK's volunteers.
Sharon Bethell, Events Manager
I was diagnosed with GIST in 2014 and recently became a Trustee. I have managed GIST Support UK's meetings for 5 years having previously worked in the events industry for 15 years. My role is to work with the Trustees in communicating and managing the regional Patient/Carer meetings that we hold each year and to assist with speaker selection. This includes data management for those events whilst also supporting the Trustees in general research and data capture.
Amalia Formoso, Corporate Fundraising
John South, Trustee & Shadow Treasurer
My career background spans more than 40 years in the NHS much of it a senior level. This included time spent at the DOH and then as a Director and subsequently CEO of an NHS Trust. I retired from the NHS 5 years ago, although I still work in the service and recently spent six months in New Zealand at a Health Board.
Our Life President
Our grateful thanks go to all existing and previous trustees who have given of their time and expertise to improve support and services for GIST patients.
These include: Barry Davis, Irene Cook, Nicola Wardle, Barbara Dore, Michael Sayers, Tim Mason, Debbie Mitchell, Terry Dickinson, Leigh Hibberdine, Patricia Thomson, Linda Butcher, Valerie Harris, Christopher Rickman and to Marion Oliver and Dave Cook who are part of our patient helpline support.
Appointments to the Board of Trustees are normally for a period of three years, with members presenting themselves for reappointment on a rotational basis.
We are always interested to hear from individuals who would like to ensure that GIST patients are supported and that GIST research is stimulated. Please do contact us if you are able to help in any way at firstname.lastname@example.org.