1 Million dollars pledged to Early Detection research

Monday, June 19, 2023
Ross and Marianne Allan

“We have the power to change the future”- An Interview with Marianne and Ross Allan

It was only 4 years ago that Marianne Allan lived a completely normal life. She played golf twice a week, walked daily, and regularly invested her spare time into various philanthropic endeavours alongside her husband Ross.

Then, in January 2020, she was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer whilst undergoing an emergency bowel operation. She had been experiencing severe back pains for 6 months prior to the diagnosis, which had numerous medical personnel stumped as to the cause. Since then, she has undergone three major operations and chemotherapy to treat the cancer. It is fair to assume that had she received the correct diagnosis when she first reported symptoms, Marianne’s chances of experiencing a longer lifespan would be far higher than she is now anticipating.  

“It just takes over your everyday life, the whole treatment situation you know? Everything is focussed on it. Whether it’s appointments, blood tests, CAT scans or visits to my GP or oncologist. It’s there all the time, it’s always there. And we know it’s never going to go away, it’s not like you can completely and utterly ignore it. I’ve just had to accept that my life will never be the same.” said Marianne, speaking via Zoom from her home in Castlemaine, Central Victoria.

Dressed in black and white, with a matching head scarf tied firmly over her head, she looks the picture of good health. She looks like someone who is beating their disease.

“I mean Marianne looks very well, and relative to what she is going through, she is. She’s got quite a positive outlook on life, which means people often look at her and think ‘Oh, she’s got one of those diseases that’s gone away’. People don’t understand the severity of pancreatic cancer. That it’s bubbling away underneath her skin. That despite how well she looks now, in six or perhaps even twelve months Marianne could be gone.” said Ross. “Pancreatic cancer is all-consuming. It’s one of those cancers that you don’t know much about until you have to know about it. We are lucky to live a relatively normal life, doing normal things like going to the movies or going on holidays together. But we know not everyone is as lucky as we are.”

With this in mind, Marianne and Ross have partnered with PanKind to produce ‘The Marianne Allan Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund’. Together, the Allan’s have pledged $1 million to be given out over a period of 10 years through PanKind’s annual Grants program. Through this named Grant, they hope to financially support Australian researchers currently investigating methods of early detection of pancreatic cancer, to drastically improve the life expectancy of people diagnosed with the disease.

“When Marianne was first diagnosed, we looked at how low the survival rates were, and how long it took for her to receive a diagnosis, and we thought that was ridiculous. That it was bloody ridiculous that in this country, in the world we live in, we can’t identify this cancer earlier. My wife is a wonderful human being, and she’s done a lot of good in this world, she really cares about people. We knew almost immediately that research into this disease was something we wanted to focus on. Through the vehicle of this monetary gift, we could help people raise awareness of the disease, and hopefully take the world closer to that step of life-saving early detection. For people today, and for those in the future.” said Ross.

For many years, the Allan’s have invested their money and time into a variety of Non-Profit foundations and causes, because they truly wish to leave the world in a better state than when they came into it.

“We’ve always felt very strongly that our hard-earned money shouldn’t be used to enhance the lifestyles of our children. We believe that once your parents have educated you and given you opportunities in life, it’s now up to you to become responsible for your future. Our hard-earned money is our hard-earned money, and we believe strongly that we have the right to spend the money where we want. That it should be used for the betterment of other people in the world who are struggling, for the future of their families.”, Marianne states.

Ross agrees. “Yeah, we’ve always felt an obligation to help improve the lives of others, to use our power to make a difference for them. To know that these people are surviving and achieving great things that they may not have been able to achieve. That’s part of the reason we started our NGO in Ethiopia many years ago building water wells for the local community.”

Marianne now jumps in with her own thoughts, becoming visibly more passionate by the second. “I think our philosophy has always been about bettering or trying to help make the world last longer. To give future generations the opportunity to last longer. Philosophically, that’s what we are doing, because we could play a part in the work being done to stop future generations from getting this nasty cancer. When we decided that we wanted to be a part of this future research, we found that PanKind were as passionate about research as we are. That the concentration on breakthrough technology for patients was at the front of the organisation’s goals. We knew as soon as we spoke with (PanKind CEO) Michelle Stewart that the three of us were totally in sync with what our joint objectives and hopes for the future of this disease are.”

It's clear that both Ross and Marianne are invested in creating a better future for pancreatic cancer patients and their families, something that will be achieved by their generous donation to PanKind.

“We are born with nothing. So, when we go, we want to go out broke, having done all we can personally to ensure a better future for all people. After all, we are citizens of the ‘World Village’ first, and Australia second. If we can go out having helped achieve early detection mechanisms for pancreatic cancer that benefits people around the world, not just our country, then we have lived right. And we have done our duty to pass on our good fortune to others.”


You can read more about the ‘Marianne Allan Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund’ here: https://pankind.org.au/our-impact/apply-for-a-grant/marianne-allan-pancreatic-cancer-research-fund/

If you would like to discuss creating a legacy with PanKind, please contact us at caroline.charlton@pankind.org.au.

Marianne and Ross on a recent holiday