The NORTH Foundation is remembering the life and incredible impact of Sandra (Sandy) Eglin after news of her passing on the 4th of February 2022.
Sandy was a long-time friend of the NORTH Foundation who dedicated many years to raising awareness and much-needed funds for the Bill Walsh Translational Cancer Research
Laboratory and pancreatic cancer research. Inspired to share her story and give a voice to patients suffering with pancreatic cancer, Sandy served as a patient advocate and community fundraiser for the Northern Sydney Local Health District (NSLHD) and the NORTH Foundation.
When Sandy received her pancreatic cancer diagnosis in October 2014, she was determined to stay positive, especially after having beaten breast cancer six months earlier.
In the very same year as her diagnosis, Sandy underwent an operation that removed the head of her pancreas. The operation was performed by Professor Jas Samra OAM, a hepatobiliary and pancreatic surgeon at Royal North Shore Hospital. Following her operation, Sandy then completed six months of chemotherapy which was administered by her medical oncologist, Dr Nick Pavlakis.
After her surgery and treatment, Sandy was able to be in remission for 18 months – time she was incredibly grateful for and which she used to travel with her family. However, in late 2017 Sandy had to recommence chemotherapy as the pancreatic cancer had returned and spread to her lung and spine. Despite statistics that showed pancreatic cancer had one of the worst survival rates, Sandy remained hopeful and grew close to her healthcare team at Royal North Shore Hospital, choosing to use her experience to inspire others to support pancreatic cancer research.
After a visit to the Bill Walsh Translational Cancer Research Lab where she saw the incredible work of researchers firsthand and heard about the possibilities that could open up with more research funding, Sandy was inspired to do everything she could to give hope and a brighter future for thousands of others living with pancreatic cancer.
In 2018, with the help of her daughter Maddy, Sandy organised a fundraising Trivia Night to support pancreatic cancer research within the Bill Walsh Lab. What started as a small fundraiser with her closest friends and family soon grew into an event with more than 400 guests and more than $45,000 being raised.
Following on from this success, Sandy agreed to feature in the annual NORTH Foundation Christmas Appeal to share her story with thousands of people within the donor community.
Sandy and her family continued to generously devote their time to bringing the community together to fundraise and support pancreatic cancer research with a Winter Wonderland Masquerade Ball held in 2019. This fantastic community event raised more than $60,000 and provided researchers within the NSLHD with the opportunity to speak about and share their work with the community.
Recognising her incredible contributions and ability to inspire others, the NORTH Foundation invited Sandy to be a guest speaker at the official launch of the NORTH Foundation in late 2019 to share her story and why she was so dedicated to fundraising.
In her speech, Sandy said, “I want future pancreatic cancer sufferers and their families to have more hope and treatment options than what is currently available. This can only be achieved by more research into the complex disease, and this means that the lab requires a lot more funding than what they are currently receiving.”
In remembering how involved Sandy was with the NORTH Foundation throughout the years, Nicky Jacobs, Director of Philanthropy at the NORTH Foundation, says,
“We invited Sandy to recognise her hard work and show our appreciation for her choosing to partner with us to fundraise and raise awareness for this important cause. I know that I, and countless other NSLHD staff, will miss her bright smile, caring heart and electric energy.”
Sandy was also recognised by the Chief Executive of the NSLHD, Deb Willcox, when she was asked to feature in a patient video alongside her daughter Maddy (a former staff member at Royal North Shore Hospital) that was shown at the 2019 NSLHD Public Meeting celebrating patient stories.
Even following the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, Sandy and her sister Leanne generously gave their time to share their experience as patient and family member respectively, to help support the development of Royal North Shore Hospital’s Pancreatic Cancer Centre.
Throughout her lifetime, Sandy – supported by her family – worked tirelessly to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer and the crucial funding needed to support research into improved diagnostic testing and treatment options for patients.
“Sandy was just so special – she had this incredible warmth and spark about her that drew people in and made you want to connect. She touched so many people’s lives through her advocacy and we are so grateful that she chose to share her story and fundraise for our researchers. We will miss her dearly,” says Nicky Jacobs.