Thursday, October 17, 2013

Our walk for life!

Cancer is - well, every expletive I know, is not enough to describe cancer.
It's cruel is what it is. It's nasty, undignified, painful, and does not play fair. And much more than that.
Everyone has had their lives touched by cancer, that much is for sure.
Can you believe that these days one in two Australians will get cancer? That means it's a concern for all of us.
And if you don't know someone who has died from it, is fighting it, and/or has survived it, then you should probably buy a lottery ticket right now.
The kids and I certainly have known and lost loved ones.
We have admired lovely people who have fought the beast and survived (thinking of you Darren, Karen, Leanne, and Denise, and our more recent friend Rowena).
I met Rowena earlier this year when I interviewed her about her role in the Relay For Life. I was touched that she opened up about her story - fighting and beating two cancers in the space of a few years, and then wanting to give something back by chairing the South Burnett Relay For Life.
And then I learned that the Relay For Life was something that anyone could take part in.
Usually fundraisers like these seem to be for awesomely fit people and cost a lot to join in, Relay For Life involves walking for 18 hours overnight. In our case, it was 18 hours around the Kingaroy Showgrounds. But you didn't have to do it continuously, you could do it in laps, and swap with members of your team when you got tired.
Of course, those who were supremely fit or in training for other events could jog, but the highest fundraisers were actually a 'flock of birds', Birds Of A Feather, from a tiny town called Proston. They were a mix of survivors and supporters, and were all women of a certain age, decked out beautifully in floral trousers and hats.
I thought the kids might just want to go along to support for a few hours, but they were adamant: They were registering, and they were walking!
Chase wanted to relay in memory of his best friend Nick, who died of a brain tumour last year.
Nick has been a continuing influence on Chase's life. He was there when Chase started school in grade one and remained friends with him throughout, until he became too sick to go to school.
Harmonie walked, partly for Nick, and partly for a friend she has made since moving to Kingaroy. Her friend has bone cancer.
She also feels close to my friend Leanne, who is like an auntie to her. Leanne is a single Mum to two lovely boys. She's been to hell and back, fighting breast and brain cancer. Her cancer is terminal. She's the toughest chick I know.
And Leanne was who I was walking for. And I couldn't help thinking about a woman I wrote about in this week's New Idea, Sophie Oudney, who is also fighting terminal cancer. Another inspiration woman. So strong.
Sophie is being supported on her journey by her husband and teenage sweetheart Hamish, and is focussed on living out a bucket list of happy memories for her three children, husband, family and friends.
The relay was amazing and really helped us to feel like we could do something, however small, to help in the fight against cancer. And when we felt tired and cold and hungry overnight, we knew it was nothing to what cancer patients go through when they are fighting this horrible disease and going through the even nastier treatment to fight it.
Our small but passionate South Burnett community produced a record 43 teams who so far have raised an incredible (and another record-breaking) $116,500 for the Cancer Council.That money will change the lives of many cancer patients. Even better, that total will go higher as money raised during the night and since the close of banking last Friday comes in, as people still have time to donate.
Thank you to everyone who donated to the cause, and particularly those who sponsored the kids, as it really made them feel like their efforts were worthwhile.

With Nick's parents' permission, I give some information about him here:

Nicholas had a Brain tumour known as a GBM, Glioblastoma Multiforme. Brain Tumours are the second most common cancer in children, (although Nick's particular type is actually rare in children). He was diagnosed in September 2011 and he died on May 12, 2012. He was ten.
Nick's mother Belinda is now training for the Bridge to Brisbane for Brainchild, a charity set up by Nick's surgeon and nurse to raise money and fund research for children with brain tumours. 
Nicholas was a smart, happy child, who reached out to Chase on his first day of school. Chase has never forgotten that. 
Nick developed strong friendships despite his age, and is still making a difference. 
Belinda has described Chase as 'an inspiration' and says when she finds the going getting tough in her training she will look to him as her motivation. But we find Belinda and her family are our inspiration, and Nick in particular. He was an incredible boy, who was always smiling, and we think of him often. Rest in peace Nick.

So, do you want to know what walking for the Relay For Life was like? This is how it went down for us! 

Luckily, our team, the SS Dionysius set up our tent, but Chase did our blow-up bed, which the three of us shared for sitting on and resting throughout the afternoon, evening and morning. Here he is, pretending to be exhausted before the relay even began!
Fundraising was held throughout the event. In this one, Harmonie hitched a ride in a bathtub for the price of $1. (Adults paid $3).
Anyone for cake? Some Relay for Life fundraising cupcakes. 
A little break for some fun fundraising - Skirmish! $2 for those registered to relay
Of course, Harmonie joined in too! 
The moving candlelight ceremony. After the sun went down, those who were remembering people who were fighting, had survived, or had passed from cancer, wrote their names and a message on a bag. You placed sand inside to stablise it, then lit a candle. The bags were then placed around the track. All lights went off, and in the silence, the people were remembered. A few prayers and poems were said. A little bit of water may have gotten in my eye.
Harmonie met Sid the Seagull the next morning
And won $20 for getting the most balls through a hole and into a hoop in a Bank of Queensland fundraiser! 
Footnote: Chase kept going through the night, managing 249 laps of the showgrounds at last count. He was a machine. When Harmonie napped, I must admitted to joining her for a while. I did not walk for 18 hours straight! We were all very tired the next day - and the day after that!
One team had the fab idea of giving foot massages as a fundraiser on the night, $5 each. I shouted Harmonie and Chase one each for doing such a good job. (I couldn't afford one for myself, my funds running quite low after all that fundraising - sob!) That team raised more than $2000 overnight, just with that idea alone!  
Have you participated in the Relay For Life? Could you keep walking for 18 hours? 


Ms_MotorbikeNut said...

My husband & I did one similar back in 2007 ours was for 24 hours so we know what the kids and you went through.

(((( Hugs )))) XXXX Kisses XXXX

Char said...

What a wonderful cause. I've never done it but have done runs where the fund-raising has gone to cancer or cerebral palsy and it makes the run that much easier knowing you're doing something worthwhile.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

That's a scary statistic that one in two Australians will get cancer. And how sad about Nicholas to pass away at such a young age. A great cause Bronnie and so nice to get the kids involved too!