Dialog Box

Rare Cancers Australia

Radio Rare

Radio Rare is a podcast that shares the stories of those in and around the rare and less common cancer community. 

Being diagnosed with a rare cancer doesn’t mean you’re alone and Radio Rare will dive into the human stories of the rare cancer experience, the innovation, and the advocacy. Addressing the feeling of isolation experienced by so many, we look to create a connected community of those affected by rare and less common cancers.

Listen to our latest episode

Our responsibility to patients who can’t afford to wait, Professor John Zalcberg

In this episode, RCA Chief Executive Richard Vines speaks to Professor John Zalcberg about: 

  • How he was destinated to be in medicine since childhood
  • Why he chose to specialise in cancer care
  • The challenges around making clinical trials more ‘ambitious’
  • How wealth impacts your access to cancer drugs in Australia
  • How the cost of drugs to the community trumps urgent provision to patients
  • The challenges of working within the current health system
  • Ideas to help speed up critical access to treatment
  • The untapped potential of patient data
More about Professor John Zalcberg

John was Director of Cancer Medicine at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre for 17 years, as well as their Chief Medical Officer for six. He is highly regarded both nationally and internationally as a leader in his field, is a mentor to some of the most accomplished clinicians in Australia, and is a well-known advocate for patient access to new cancer drugs.

Previous episodes

Listen to previous episodes using the drop-down episode menus.

Thought Leader Series
Risks and rewards: getting new medications into the hands of patients, Carlo Montagner

In this episode, RCA Chief Executive Richard Vines speaks to Carlo Montagner about: 

  • His move from psychology to pharma
  • Building a strong foundation in the industry
  • Founding STA with his wife 
  • The barriers to, and costs of, supplying drugs in Australia 
  • How the process can be improved and simplified Accessing drugs not listed on the PBS 
  • The responsibility of clinicians around reimbursement 
  • The challenges and opportunities of Health Technology Assessment (HTA) 
  • Why STA is expanding into Asia His family’s personal experience with rare cancer 
  • Why he is passionate about bringing rare cancer drugs to Australia His vision for the future
More about Carlo Montagner

Specialised Therapeutics Australia (STA) is a pharmaceutical company that has been instrumental in helping Australians living with rare cancer to access new medications that would otherwise be out of reach. Before co-founding STA, Carlo held senior roles at some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.

From Registered Nurse to Chief Executive, Professor Shelley Dolan

In this episode, RCA Chief Executive Richard Vines speaks to Professor Shelley Dolan about: 

  • Signing up as a nurse dressed in full punk rock gear, complete with pink hair 
  • Her love of intensive care and why she moved to cancer care 
  • Moving up the ranks from nurse to CEO What she’s learned, and continues to learn, from patients and their families 
  • Making your voice heard as a patient 
  • The challenges of being a nurse – and a woman – in a patriarchal system 
  • How Peter Mac works, access to drugs, and why it’s such a special place 
  • How we can improve access to clinical trials in rural and regional areas 
  • Her vision for the future
More about Professor Shelley Dolan

Shelley began her career as a registered nurse in the UK, rising through the ranks to become Deputy Chief Executive at one of the largest hospitals in Europe and also at Europe’s largest comprehensive cancer centre. She has over 30 years of experience in healthcare, specialising in critical care and cancer nursing.

COVID Connect
COVID Connect: COVID and its effect on people living with cancer, with Julie McGirr and Giovanna Raco

In the latest episode of the Radio Rare podcast, Clinical Nurse Specialists Julie and Giovanna from Cancer Council Victoria share how the turbulence of the last 18 months has affected people living with cancer, and what patients are most concerned about at the moment.

COVID Connect: Community Impact and Mental Health with Headspace's Rupert Saunders

In the latest episode of the Radio Rare podcast, we chat to Rupert Saunders from headspace for an insight into what many young people are feeling in the wake of 18 months of constant changes and challenges. 

He also provides some tips and strategies for people of all ages who may be struggling to deal with the ongoing uncertainty.

COVID Connect: COVID-19 Vaccine Research with Prof Rhonda Stuart

We are living in extraordinary times, and uncertainty drives us to seek answers. It’s easy to get swept away in a sea of conflicting information.

In the latest episode of Radio Rare in our COVID Connect mini-series, we go back to basics with Professor Rhonda Stuart from Monash Health. Drawing on her extensive career in public health, she explains how the COVID-19 virus operates, how the vaccines work, and how both of these things can effect people living with cancer

COVID Connect: Impact of COVID-19 on our healthcare system, with Dr Nick Pavlakis and Geraldine McDonald

The impact of COVID-19 on our healthcare system has and continues to be significant. 

In our latest episode of Radio Rare in our COVID Connect mini-series, we take you into the hospital world and explore the NSW and Victorian experiences through the lens of two experts – Oncologist at Royal North Shore Hospital, Prof Nick Pavlakis and Director of Prevention and Wellbeing at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Geraldine McDonald.

COVID Connect: Adjusting to a new normal with Maddie

It was just before Melbourne’s second lockdown (lasting 111 days) that Maddie was diagnosed with thymoma. 

In our first Radio Rare episode in our COVID Connect mini-series, she shares how she adjusted to her new normal – facing not just a cancer diagnosis, but the added uncertainty of a rare cancer diagnosis in a global pandemic.

Season 2
Tamlin Hall: I'm not a Failure - a Teenage Perspective on Childhood Cancers

When many people think of childhood cancers, images of babies and toddlers often appear. But what about teenagers living with a rare cancer? 

This is a very different picture, and one that is often overlooked as Tamlin explains in our latest episode of Radio Rare.

The Isham family and Dr Rachel Conyers on Childhood Cancers

Even when you are a doctor, finding out your son has a rare cancer can be difficult to understand.

In this special #RareCancersAwarenessDay edition of Radio Rare, our very own Dr Emily shares a very personal experience with her husband and oncologist by her side.

Dr Amanda Ruth, on the Future of Cancer Care in Australia

It's an exciting time in cancer care with advances in medicine allowing us to look more closely at each person’s cancer, and to identify more effective treatments for each patient’s case. 

In the latest episode of Radio Rare we explore this and what this means for patients with our very own Dr Amanda Ruth, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Rare Cancers Australia and Executive Director of the National Oncology Alliance.

Dr Jay Perry, Taking Treatments Benchside to Bedside

Benchtop to bedside is a commonly used term when it comes to research. But what does it mean in the reality of cancer treatments, and what does it look like when it comes to developing new medicines for cancer patients? 

We explore this in our latest episode of Radio Rare featuring Dr Jay Perry, Associate Research Fellow at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Insititute.

Cindy Bakos & Cassandra Howcroft, making fitness fun for kids

In this weeks episode, we sit down and talk with Cindy Bakos and Cassandra Howcroft and explore why it’s so important for children living with a cancer diagnosis to stay active, and how parents can make it fun, together. 

Cindy and Cass are two mums at the front of the exercise as medicine movement, with their organisation, Little Big Steps, making paediatric oncology wards just a little more active! Find out how on this episode of Radio Rare!

Tracey Duggan, Turning Cancer Fatigue into Cancer Fitness

Appearing this week on Episode 3 of Radio Rare: Exercise Physiologist, Tracey Duggin, who specialises in working with cancer patients on their treatment journey. Join us alongside Dr Emily as we explore how fitness helps lower your cancer fatigue, and how you can find the right place to get started today.

Dr. Damien Kee, Researching Rare Cancers

In episode one, we heard from Kate Vines on what life has been like living with a rare cancer. In episode two, we want to follow that with Dr. Damien Kee from the Austin Hospital and talk about what specifically makes rare and less common cancers so different from common types of cancer.

So join us, as Dr. Kee takes us down the rabbit hole that is clinical research and study, available wherever you get your podcasts.

You can learn more about ARC portal here: https://www.arcportal.org.au/ and visit the CART-Wheel website here: https://www.cart-wheel.org/

Kate Vines, Life with a Rare Cancer

Season two of Radio Rare is here and for episode one, we chat to Kate Vines, one of the founders of Rare Cancers Australia, talking about her life with a rare cancer and how technology has opened new treatment options. We also have a special guest, Dr Damien Kee, a medical oncologist based at the Austin hospital, to talk about rare cancers from a researchers perspective.

So plug in your headphones, get comfy, and join us for the Radio Rare Season Two premiere!

Christmas Special: Mike George, an Australian Larykin

Our guest this week, making his debut appearance, is Mike George. One of a small number of Australias, who has undergone a laryngectomy. Mike talks us through the journey of his diagnosis, and advocacy work. As you'll hear not having a voice box hasn't slowed Mike down, hear him tell his own story.

Season 1
Richard Vines, the 'why' behind Rare Cancers Australia

For our final episode of Radio Rare, we chat to Rare Cancers Australia (RCA), CEO, Richard Vines as he pulls back the curtain and talks about how RCA came to be and why the need is so great. 

All clips in this episode can be found in Season One of Radio Rare.

Today's episode is sponsored by Care Connected

Ben McGuire, the things no-one sees coming

Ben shares the heartfelt cancer journey of his family when his wife Donna was first diagnosed with a rare cancer. He recounts from the time of the first biopsy, through the ups and downs that no one sees coming. 

Motor Events has Australia’s most diverse competitive grassroots racing events that YOU can be involved in! No huge expenses to get started, no confusing rules or restrictions. Just get a bunch of mates, build your race car and get some safety gear. Find more information here: https://www.motorevents.com.au/

Hosam Ehdeyhed, the strange experience of being diagnosed with cancer

Hosam is a father of 3 and a dentist by career. In 2009, he was diagnosed with a rare type of brain cancer and in this episode of Radio Rare, he shares the strange experience that he had when he was first diagnosed and describes the highs and lows of his rare cancer journey.

Professor Sean Grimmond, new hope with precision medicine

As precision medicine looks to provide new hope to cancer patients, we speak to Professor Sean Grimmond from the Melbourne University Centre of Cancer Research. Professor Grimmond discusses how far Genomic sequencing has come and how much further it will go.

Julijana Todorovic, the crossroads of a cancer experience

To round out Sarcoma Awareness Month we speak to Ewing Sarcoma survivor and member of the ANZSA consumer advisory panel, Julijana Todorovic. Julijana was diagnosed at the age of 22 and dives into how a cancer experience can feel as though you are at a crossroads.

Luke Bourne, having a life-changing CT scan

From working in the mines in Queensland to having a life-changing CT scan which revealed a lump on the brain. Luke Bourne shares his 5-year experience of living with an incredibly rare cancer known as Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma.

To follow Luke's journey, check out his Instagram.

Lifeline: https://www.lifeline.org.au/

Beyond Blue: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

Dr Denise Caruso, educating without inducing paranoia  

Dr Denise Caruso, CEO of the Australia and New Zealand Sarcoma Association, ANZSA, chats with Dr Emily Isham about sarcomas, clinical trials for rare cancers, and how to educate without inducing paranoia.

Tania Rice-Brading, continuing Cooper's legacy 

20% of childhood cancers in Australia are Sarcoma. Tania Rice-Brading, co-founder of the Cooper Rice-Brading foundation shares why she is passionately striving for more sarcoma research and we also hear the emotional story of who the Cooper behind the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation is.

A note that the conversation contains stories of childhood cancer which may be upsetting for some listeners. Please reach out to your support network if you are affected or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Judi Meloni, living with a rare cancer

Dr Emily Isham talks with Judi as she shares her remarkable cancer experience from the beginning of her diagnosis, what it’s like to live with a rare cancer, her close encounter with mercury poisoning, and how she has picked up the slack when it comes to finding support.

Jessica Bean, advocating for Australian patients 

For Australians who need access to clinical trials and new medicines, it can feel overwhelming and impossible to know where to start. Patient advocate and founder of the Patient Voice Initiative, Jessica Bean, discusses some topics that are central to many rare diseases, not just rare cancers, clinical trials, compassionate access, and patient advocacy.

Professor Bogda Koczwara, the true meaning of cancer survivorship

It is common to think that a cancer journey ends once a person goes into remission and it can feel as though the parade has passed by. Professor Bogda Koczwara from Flinders University talks about the true meaning of Cancer Survivorship and how Australia’s healthcare system is dealing with this phase of the cancer journey.

Professor David Thomas, the future of cancer research

Professor David Thomas from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research provides a glimpse of what the future of cancer research could look like. Professor Thomas gives us an insight into the man behind the white coat, how patient experiences shape his daily work, and how molecular medicine is changing things for patients of today and tomorrow.

Dr. Richard Tothill, the power of genomics

Dr. Richard Tothill from the University of Melbourne gives us a glimpse into the future of cancer treatments, particularly in CUP and NETS. His research in genomics is bringing cutting edge concepts to reality and we are on the cusp of a seismic shift. For this Genomics Group leader, its just another day in the lab.

Christine Cockburn, the rollercoaster experience of cancer

Christine Cockburn, Patient Support Manager here at Rare Cancers Australia shares the emotional story of caring for her mum during her cancer journey along with the roller coaster that was her own cancer journey. Christine provides insight from not only a carer's perspective but a patient perspective as well.

Adam Lynch, the story behind BEAT Bladder Cancer Australia  

Adam Lynch, father of two children and founder of BEAT Bladder Cancer Australia shares the journey of his late wife Anna as she tried to overcome Bladder Cancer. Adam dives into the inspiration of founding BEAT Bladder Cancer Australia.

Dr. Rebecca Kelly, dealing with childhood cancer

Scientist, advocate, mum, and caregiver Dr. Rebecca Kelly sits down with us to talk about the highs and lows of caring for her to 8-year-old son Ryan who was diagnosed with leukemia. Dr. Kelly dives into the hurdles of a new diagnosis and being able to advocate for a sick child and keep everything else moving along.

Dr Bruce Schubert, when life doesn't go to plan

Clinical psychologist of more than 30 years Bruce Schubert shares his observations and thoughts around the current state of physical distancing and how some are more suited to it than others. Bruce and Emily chat about what cancer patients have known for some time, that life doesn't always go the way you expected it to.

Simone Cloake, dealing with cancer recurrence

Often the glue that holds it all together when someone is diagnosed, is the carer. They don't sign up for the role and like the loved ones they care for - they don’t expect it. Simone Cloake tells her story of caring for her Dad after being cancer-free for 21 years and diagnosed with a rare cancer called Cholangiocarcinoma. 

Mohab Kamel, the role of a cancer care

Carers play a crucial role in a cancer patient's journey often being the anchor to everyday life. On episode 3 of Radio Rare Mohab Kamel very kindly and honestly shares the experience of his and his wife's cancer journey. Mohab also shares how he coped through financial and emotional struggles. 

Paul Cross,the Australian Healthcare system

Radio Rare episode two! Paul Cross joins us for a passionate discussion about the approval process of new therapies. Paul is a publisher and the founder of the Biopharma Dispatch. We cover a wide range of topics from the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) and HTA (Health Technology Assessment), to Australia's role in the global market and Paul's views on investing in new therapies to give people more time. 

Richard Vines, life as a cancer carer

Welcome to the first episode of season 1! Dr. Emily Isham sits down with Rare Cancers Australia CEO Richard Vines. Richard discusses his role as a carer over the past 30 years, the NFP industry and how RCA was born. 


Rare Cancer patients quite simply don't fit into the current health system. Radio Rare is a podcast that looks deeper into the issues that hold rare cancers back from having parity with the access, treatment pathways, timely diagnosis, and overall survival common cancers experience. We talk to patients, their families, experts, and game-changers on the current state of Rare.