AUSTRALIANS are being encouraged to give up all liquids except water for an entire month in support of this month'sRemember September campaign against pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is predicted by experts to be the second-biggest cancer killer in Australia in coming years and the disease currently claims virtually the same amount of lives as breast cancer.
Raising funds is vital for investing into research to improve health outcomes.
"The Remember September challenge is simple, but far from easy. By drinking nothing except water all month it's like an extreme version of Dry July!," said David Wilheim, who set up the challenge with his brother Ben.
They did so after losing their father Danny to pancreatic cancer in 2014, a year after the disease also claimed their cousin Danielle, 33, just six weeks after she was diagnosed.
For 40 days, David gave up all liquids except water. His initial fundraising target was $3000 but he surpassed that within two hours of launching and went on to raise $15,600 for pancreatic cancer research.
"Pancreatic cancer caused so much anguish for my family. We were astounded at the dire statistics around this disease and realised something needed to be done," David said.
The challenge gives participants an opportunity to talk to their networks to help raise much-needed funds and awareness for the disease.
"During the challenge I often crave a coffee, and I like that it makes me think of my dad and cousin," David said.
Now in its fifth year, the Avner Pancreatic Cancer Foundation campaign is rolling out in capital cities and regional centres around Australia. In 2019, the campaign aims to reach the fundraising target of $50,000.
"The campaign focuses on positive lifestyle changes and keeping healthy, but people take the challenge for different reasons - not just to raise awareness and funding for vital research, but for personal reasons. I like that we can give that to all Australians," David said.
Foundation chief executive Michelle Stewart said the five-year survival rate for the disease is very low at 9.8 per cent compared with other cancers, which now exceed 90 per cent survival.
"The disease receives little or no government funding so we are desperate to raise more funds through alternative means, to continue funding the best researchers in Australia," she said.
To date, the challenge has raised almost $180,000 for pancreatic cancer research.
The foundation is encouraging people to take the challenge or support a challenger. It provides a "Purple Pass", which gives participants a night off the challenge for a special event.
The only charity in Australia exclusively dedicated to pancreatic cancer, the foundation is driven by a mission to drastically lift survival rates for sufferers of the disease.
It aims to achieve this by raising awareness and funding medical research at institutions around Australia.
To support the challenge, click here.