Chris celebrates her 50th birthday while supporting cancer research

“Turning 50 was a milestone in my life. My only sadness, as that milestone approached, was that I wouldn’t get to share this special day with my parents as they had both passed away with cancer.

When the question of whether I should have a party or celebrate quietly loomed closer. I thought to myself, “In every other way I am blessed and wish for nothing else but continued health and happiness for myself and those I love, so why not party and celebrate?!” In a salute to the wonderful lives we live and as an investment in our future and those of our children, I asked for donations to cancer research instead of birthday presents.

We have all been touched by cancer in some way and we all live in fear that we or someone we love will be diagnosed with cancer. I’ve watched too many friends and family undergo invasive and debilitating treatments. The trauma associated with the cancer journey is heartbreaking. We are lucky that we have intelligent and talented scientists in Australia who devote their lives to cancer research. Every day they are working to improve methods of cancer prevention, detection and treatment. I believe we all must do what we can to support their lifesaving work.

I was very close to both my parents, mostly my mum. Mum and I did a lot of things together and she was always a great support to me, especially once I started my own family. She was a soft, kind, gentle and loving soul. Family meant everything to her and she sacrificed a lot to always be there for her children.

When my mum started getting very tired and had a lack of appetite it didn’t seem too unusual to us – after all she was 87. Then her leg began swelling a couple of months later and her doctor began investigating but still no one suspected cancer.

It wasn’t until 2.5 weeks prior to her passing that we found out she had advanced ovarian cancer and it was terminal. We never expected cancer and certainly never expected her to pass away so quickly. On 30 November 2015 Mum passed away just a few months short of her 88th birthday.

While we knew my mum had a good and long life, it still came as a huge shock. It is difficult to reconcile the passing of someone who is such a big part of your life. I miss her every day but I am trying to follow her example with my own family.

I know she would have loved my party! My birthday is on Christmas Day and she named me after Christmas – Christine Joy – so I held my party one month early with a Christmas theme.

My mum was the last of my children’s grandparents to pass away. My husband and I lost all four of our parents in three years. All four were over 80 so we were very lucky in so many ways.

My dad was the first to pass. He was diagnosed with bowel cancer when he was 87. We organised a family weekend away for my parent’s anniversary and my dad really enjoyed himself. I’m so thankful for that special time together. My dad always made the most of every moment of life. Forever the optimist, he broke the news to my brother by saying, “The bad news is that I am dying but the good news is that I am going to Heaven!” Dad was 89 years when he died.

Research really does make a difference and we all will benefit in some way. Thank you to my friends and family who donated to ACRF in lieu of gifts. My party raised $1400 for ACRF which I know will contribute to something greater and far more valuable than gifts. I believe it is a great investment in all our futures especially for those of us with children, as we all want to know that they will live longer and healthier lives and hopefully not have to suffer through terrible diseases and difficult treatments.” ACRF supporter, Chris Hizart

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