My name is Zoë and I’m writing to you because I believe in a world without cancer is possible. But it will not be possible without your help.
To me, actions speak volumes. There are times when cancer can make us feel powerless, but I’ve chosen to take action.
I wanted to share my story with you, because like me, I know that you want to see an end to all cancers. In December 2013, my father Ron was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma. I don’t remember a lot about the moment we found out, except that I was with my parents in the oncologist’s office and he told us it was rare. When you stop and think, you realise not a single person goes through life without being impacted by cancer – either through a friend, family member or by experiencing it themselves.
So I am asking you to please help me fund the technology researchers need to stop this suffering.
My dad did everything he could to beat his cancer over the next three years. It was hard work and he had set backs – including a heart failure, multiple infections and countless trips to the ER. And to his dismay, his golf game got much worse. But the treatment was working and his tumour went from 119mm to nothing. We had been celebrating a year of remission for my dad when I got married in July 2016. He was in good spirits.
But we all know that with cancer things change quickly and without notice.
The day after my wedding, dad told me he had relapsed. The cancer was in a new spot and it was aggressive. He had known for two weeks – in fact he found out on my birthday. My father loved his family so much so that when faced with heartbreaking news that required unrelenting support towards him, he buried it, gave me away, delivered a beautiful speech and danced and mingled the night away. When he told me, I cried. I sobbed actually. It turns out you can never feel comfortable about defeating cancer. It is a beast and it’s not polite about when or where it will occur. It is the worst house guest and it is never, ever invited. Once I finished crying, my thoughts went to my parents who had to stump up and do this again. My dad had good days, bad days and damn ugly days. There were days when he wanted to eat super foods, drink super drinks and exercise. And there were days when he just wanted to hide, when he was angry and absolutely deflated, when no one could say anything to make it better. He lived as best he could, inside hospital walls and even with a drip attached to him.
My mother (pictured above with my dad and their granddaughter) had one of the hardest jobs of any of us. They had been married for 48 years, they were best friends. But you cannot deny that cancer changes a relationship; they became comrades, standing side by side every day.
What I would love is for us, as a community, to remember that everyday there are people and families around us who are struggling with this.
Cancer changes the way people interact with you. It makes people uncomfortable – cancer patients look different and they look unwell. Friends can go missing for a period of time too. When times are hardest, it is the patient in the middle of it with their family, and a small handful of friends, who stand on the edges for support. Sometimes you don’t know what support you need, sometimes you just need someone to hold you up.
In September 2016, my father died. It is hard. There is no amount of time between dad’s death that will make it easier or less present for me.
That person has gone and naturally there is a huge hole in my life. I will always miss him. Every memory of my dad is clearer than it was when he was alive. Everything that I knew he loved is even more present in my days. There is no getting over it, there is simply taking steps forward knowing I have his spirit with me. I think we need to support each other in this community in whatever way we can. Together we can make life better for those who are living with cancer.
If you feel like I do, and you want to make sure that no one else has to experience the pain and heartache of cancer in the future, join me to give Australia’s best researchers the tools they need to end cancer.
The sum of what you give doesn’t matter, what matters is the sum of people who give. Together we can change the future. We can create a world without cancer.