"I lost a brother and sister to cancer, aged 16 and 32 respectively. My sister, Lisa, had non-Hodgkin lymphoma and my half-brother had bowel cancer. I started supporting Cancer Council almost 10 years ago through Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea in memory of them and to celebrate them both.
The last thing I expected was for cancer to happen to me. Two years ago I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. I’m a healthy and active person, I love going to the beach each morning and getting involved with my local surf lifesaving club. Cancer was a surprise and a shock. It can be a track stopper and threaten to drive you off course, to stop functioning, to scream and holler and go ‘’why, why, why’’.
My treatment so far has included three surgeries, lymph node removal, radiotherapy, endless ultrasounds, mammograms, physiotherapy and more. My cancer returned last year and I’m still undergoing treatment. It’s an ongoing process.
My approach to dealing with my cancer and treatment is personal. Being a parent and being a business owner you deal with problems all day, so it’s almost become part of my day. For me, cancer is just another issue to deal with. It’s a real intrusion in my day, and it’s a real intrusion on my body. So I decided to address cancer head on, I’m not going to hide under a rock and say woe is me. I would prefer to just get on and deal with it the best way I can, my way. I chose to define cancer and not let it define me.
In terms of support, my partner, my kids, my family my amazing team at work (I feel a bit emotional when I think of my teams support which was unexpected and hugely touching) my clients and the industry which I work in, have been awesome. I have also accessed a range of Cancer Council’s support services. I’ve called 13 11 20, accessed info from the website, read the info booklets and more!
I believe that life is not ‘’yours’’, that things can happen, that things can happen that threaten to knock you down, that we are so lucky to have made it this far if we get to each decade of life successfully – so many don’t. Cancer has made me count my blessings even more than I did, to love my body even more than I did and to be more aware of what others think and feel.
My morning tea this year will be at the office and I will invite 50-100 clients, friends, prospects and journalists. I design the event to be a chance to stop work and relax, acknowledge the disease and those who suffer, come together in comradery and friendship, in memoriam for those we have lost or are still undergoing treatment. Over the years of hosting, I think we’ve raised about $10,000. One of the things I love is that each and every morning tea is different. For my morning tea I usually make it quite formal, very English with white tablecloths, waiters, sandwiches and some lovely scones!"