A leading Australian fitness coach, Daniel Wilson, died in May 2019 two months after being diagnosed with stomach cancer aged just 37.
Daniel was well known for introducing Metafit, a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) program, to Australia. He was influential and much loved within the 10,000 strong Metafit community in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and across Asia. He was more than a fitness coach, he was a life coach, business coach and good friend to many. His positive energy inspired thousands around the world.
Daniel was incredibly fit and determined to fight the disease, his death left his community stunned and devastated.
“The world lost an exceptional man this week. The Metafit community around the globe lost a passionate leader and educator and I, along with many others, lost a caring friend. You were one of the best humans I’ve ever known Dan,” a friend Helen Kontogiannis summed up the sentiment on social media.
Now, those who loved Daniel are commemorating his life by raising funds for medical research that will help find earlier diagnoses and treatments for others with stomach cancer.
Stomach cancer is relatively common in Australia and has poor rates of survival. Deaths from stomach cancer are most common in men in their 60s. Daniel was extremely unlucky to have been diagnosed with stomach cancer before the age of 40.
After his diagnosis, Daniel bravely shared news of his illness with the Metafit community. Through this network he started a correspondence with Professor Brendan Jenkins at Hudson Institute of Medical Research, a leading researcher in the field of stomach (gastric) cancer.
Daniel’s close friend Dan Scanlon explains; “Daniel was the kind of person who, as soon as he was diagnosed, started to research more so that he could educate others. That’s the kind of person he was. If it was me, I would have been curled up in a ball, for him, speaking to the experts gave him comfort.”
Prof Jenkins’ research group was responsible for recent promising medical research that identified a family of genes that could more accurately detect stomach cancer and potentially improve survival rates. However, the research is in the early stages and requires further work to develop targeted treatments for stomach cancer.
Professor Jenkins’ lab is at the forefront of research into biomarkers linked to the immune system. When these biomarkers are overactive they can drive cancer, they are also important for early detection.
Despite the lab’s global reputation, obtaining funding for medical research is extremely difficult, which means projects like this need philanthropy to progress them further to help patients.
Hudson Institute, together with those closest to Daniel, are appealing to the wider community to donate funds to enable much needed further research.
The aim is to fund a scholarship in Daniel Wilson’s name that will support a PhD student to progress this stomach cancer research to the next stage. The project would take three to four years at a cost of $35,000 AUD per year. The research will not progress without this funding.
It’s an ambitious funding target but Scanlon feels that it is a fitting legacy.
“Everything Daniel did, he did 100 per cent. I know he would be proud to have a scholarship in his name associated with finding a cure for this disease,” Scanlon says.
Prof Jenkins is committed to working with those close to Daniel Wilson to ensure that the student selected will echo his values of living passionately, with a positive mindset, and of promoting health and wellbeing.