15 November 1987 – 13 November 2008
Kieran Stark is the son of Kerry Morrison and William Stark, the founders of the PNET Brain Cancer Foundation. Kieran was a state champion cross-country runner and rower. He was widely recognised by his cheeky smile and his ability to see positivity and fun in life no matter how difficult it became. At age 18, during his final year at high school in 2006 he was struck down by PNET brain cancer.
Kieran underwent surgery to remove his tumor, and he had 6 weeks of daily radiotherapy during his final study and exam period. He bravely finished and passed year 12, and was accepted into a science/engineering degree at university, where he hoped to study genetics to assist in seeking a cure for brain and CNS cancers.
Whilst studying at university and coaching rowing for elite female rowers, Kieran received Eastern and Western medical treatments. He had 3 surgeries to remove his tumor, and 12 weeks of daily radiotherapy. This was followed by stem-cell assisted chemotherapy for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, once a month over 4 months.
Kieran’s resistance levels were so reduced that he was readmitted to the hospital’s isolation unit for another week each month to recover. After stoically fighting the disease for 2 years and 3 months, he lost his battle with PNET cancer, passing away in 2008, 2 days before his 21st birthday.
In 2008 Kieran was awarded the Victorian Young Sports Person of the Year Award for his dedication to rowing coaching and for inspiring others whilst undergoing cancer treatments. He continued to coach right up until the day that he died.
Kieran’s inspirational courage and determination to give back to and support others highlights the tragedy of losing young people who have so much to offer the world.
Team FIMM is Francesca Morrison and Iain MacFadyen
Kieran Stark was my cousin. Although I grew up in the UK with my extended family living in Australia, I was always kept up to date of the goings on many miles away through my parents and through occasional trips back to see the family in Oz.
When Kieran was diagnosed with this rare form of brain cancer it was a huge shock for us in London. There is nothing like feeling helpless when a loved one is sick, added to this the 10,000 or so miles between London and Melbourne and the feeling of powerlessness is immense.
In 2009, almost a year after Kieran’s death, Iain and I decided to quit our jobs and go off on an adventure around Europe on a tandem bike. We did not want this just to be a holiday, we wanted a challenge both mentally and physically and if possible to do some good by raising money for charity. There was no cause closer to my heart than PNET research. After feeling so unable to help and so far away during Kieran’s illness, this gave me a chance to help my family and take some positive action in what was such a tragic situation.
The last time I saw Kieran he was 12 years old and I was 19. I remember him being an amazingly energetic and athletic kid with a huge smile. I wonder if perhaps he would have approved of our bike ride and quitting our jobs, whilst others were thinking it was crazy…. Maybe he would have even joined us.
It saddens me that I will never get to meet Kieran as an adult. You think families will be around forever and then suddenly you realize they are not. If anything, Kieran’s death has made me realize that life is about loved ones and about family.