Ilford cancer campaigner sets up charity in cousin’s memory

A young campaigner who saw her cousin die of cancer has set up a charity in his name.

Penny Chirstofi, 22 of Lowbrook Road, Ilford became an ambassador for Cancer Research UK after her cousin, Georgie Pantzairka, died of bone cancer at the age of 17 in April.

Miss Chirstofi along with her uncle has set up the George Pantziarka TP53 Trust in her cousin’s memory.

She said: “The aim is to provide support and information to families and individuals, and to help foster understanding and research into the condition.

“The plan is to use the site to bring together all those affected or interested in the condition and further down the line to register the trust as a charity so that we can expand the range of activities and raise money.”

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The TP53 gene functions as a tumour suppressor which kills cells that have become cancerous. When the gene fails, it means the body loses one of the key mechanisms which stops damaged cells becoming cancers.

Miss Chirstofi: “When Georgie died it was absolutely heartbreaking. It was so horrific to see someone waste away and I was determined to see what I could do to try prevent it from happening to others.

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“We have had a great response to the website from people who are worried about having genetic mutations which may lead to cancer and who would like to know more.”

Penny, who won the Recorder/Rotary Young Citizen award, sponsored by Exchange Ilford, in December, has visited Parliament twice to campaign for both better radiotherapy and more money so people can be diagnosed quicker.

She collected 1,000 signatures and helped petition the government, whichawarded Cancer Research �25million.

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