It is with heavy hearts that the Harry Perkins Institute farewells Kylie Beard, beloved ambassador for the Walk for Women’s Cancer, who passed away yesterday from breast cancer that metastasised to her brain. She was surrounded by her family at Fiona Stanley Hospital. Today would have been her 45th birthday.
Kylie started her campaign for breast cancer awareness when she was pulled on stage by Hugh Jackman at his Perth show in 2019 after he saw her sign which read ‘Please hug me, Hugh, my boobs are trying to kill me’.
“We count ourselves lucky to have met Kylie and privileged that she championed the Perkins and medical research through her commitment to the Walk for Women’s Cancer,” Perkins Institute Director, Professor Peter Leedman AO says.
“Kylie was an exceptional woman. She was strong and full of courage and positivity. She was a loyal supporter of the Perkins and a donor – but most importantly, she was family.
“My wife and fellow Walker, as well as breast physician, Dr Sarah Paton, along with other team members from the Perkins, had the honour and privilege of visiting Kylie several times.
“Sarah says that Kylie had an amazing persona and determination to let people know what happens with this disease.
“We all know she wasn’t about to let a moment pass without it being meaningful and with purpose. And what added meaning to her life was her belief in what the Perkins do for women with breast and ovarian cancer.
“Kylie also knew that her sisters, Nicole and Natalie have the BRCA1 gene so she wasn’t about to let them down,” says Professor Peter Leedman.
The Perkins team first met Kylie when she joined the Walk as a spectator in 2019. She was going through treatment for breast cancer and attended to cheer on her team, ‘Blistering for a Cause’.
Unfortunately, Kylie and her sisters inherited the BRCA1 gene. For Kylie, a double mastectomy, removal of her ovaries and intensive and invasive chemo and radiation therapies followed.
In 2020, Kylie was able to join the Walk and completed the event alongside her sisters and their team mates. They crossed the finish line together to cheers and applause.
But things changed earlier this year when it was discovered that Kylie’s cancer was back and it had metastasised to her brain.
“She wanted to do everything she could to support women’s cancer research at the Perkins. She was researching bee costumes for her team to wear at the Walk to celebrate the recent discovery by Perkins cancer epigenetics researcher, Associate Professor Pilar Blancafort, that honeybee venom can kill cancer cells in the lab,” says Professor Peter Leedman.
“She wanted to promote research and awareness of women’s cancer and we want to honour her wish. We will continue to drive medical research discoveries in her honour.
“Kylie doesn’t want any of us to stop fighting for medical research because, in her words, ‘it’s the only thing that will save people’s lives in the future’.”