Twenty years ago, I started volunteering for Cancer Council New South Wales, and I haven’t looked back. Shortly before this, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and then four years ago, I received a diagnosis of myeloid lymphoma in the breast. Throughout it all, Cancer Council was there whenever I needed them. I would call the 13 11 20 Information and Support line, and there was always someone there to listen and offer support. If you need any help, no matter what it is and how small, they will put you onto the right person.
Because Cancer Council was there for me, now I am trying to be there for them. It’s important to get involved in your community and also to give back and help raise funds for the things you care about. That’s why I’ve been involved in Daffodil Day at Richmond Mall in New South Wales for 20 years.
I also used to invite my friends and family over for a luncheon for Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea. Word quickly spread and the whole community got involved. We’d have a lovely time together and end up raising around $3,000 of much-needed funds. I was told I had helped raise over $20,000 since 1999, which is amazing when you think about it! But it isn’t just me; it’s the community. Whether it’s funding research, or helping people be there to answer our calls when people need advice or support, or just to raise awareness about cancer and reduce people’s risks, I know those funds are getting put to good use.
I wanted to do more, so eight years ago, I, along with others, started Hawkesbury Cancer Support Group. We make house calls and provide support to local people who are going through the cancer journey.
I’ve also decided to leave a gift in my will to Cancer Council NSW to support research once I’m gone. It’s simple really: without money, we can’t do research, and we can’t find a cure. No matter how small, we can all do something. You don’t have to be wealthy, but I believe we can all give in some way, either volunteering, donating or leaving a gift in your will. Even if it’s only $2, it’s money they didn’t have before.
I don’t volunteer to get anything back, but boy do I get so much out it! It makes me feel good to know the time I give and the funds I raise, no matter how much it is, will help other people. Neither do you do it for the recognition, but I was very honoured to receive the Australia Day Hawkesbury Volunteer of the Year award in 2016.
Volunteering has been a great social outlet since retirement. I’ve met so many wonderful people. You can see how important what we do is to people — at Daffodil Day people come over to me and say, ‘This is just wonderful, I must get involved’. I love being able to share my story and support others going through cancer, too. I’ve always tried to have a positive attitude in life, and I’m a little crazy like my mum was. I enjoy life so much, and I like to spread my hope as a survivor. I know what the loss feels like as I lost my brother and sister to cancer and want to do everything I can so there are more survivors.
The great thing is that volunteering gives you an opportunity to meet and connect with people from all walks of life. I have great memories of strong men, who simply walk over and give $20 and say thanks for helping their wife. It makes me just proud to stand behind the Cancer Council sign knowing that they are there to help and will continue to help people.
Daffodil Day is in my blood. I will keep volunteering and giving as long as I can, and my gift in my will ensures my legacy continues.