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Troy Mason and his family have been part of the Gawler Relay For Life family since 2019 and in a few short years, they’ve put a smile on many faces! As others have been inspired, it all started when cancer impacted his family in a way that Troy never imagined would happen.

In 2018, Troy received a call from his sister that shook him to the core.

“It was my sister and straight away, I could hear in her voice that something wasn’t right. Our mum had been diagnosed with breast cancer. It hit me really hard — I felt numb and shock, and I immediately thought I can’t lose her. She is such a loveable, strong willed, friendly and outgoing person who will help anyone at any time or in situation.”

Thankfully, Troy’s mum was able to have the lump removed and radiotherapy sessions also helped her treatment, but the experience changed Troy to the core. “She is one of the lucky ones, and our family can still continue to celebrate life with our Mum, Nanna and our friend. But life during that time felt very different — it was a time of the unknown and so much uncertainty and stress, which put strain on all of us,” he says.

Just three months later, Troy received news that his wife’s mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. “We couldn’t believe it! The outlook was not looking good at all, and she had six months of chemo, eight weeks of radiotherapy, a single mastectomy, and she soon became quite unwell. Life changed for everyone, not just for the person who was fighting for their life, but for all those around her that are trying to fight for her too,” Troy says.

Thankfully, his mother-in-law is still cherishing life with her family, grandkids and close friends. With both Troy and his wife having lost their grandmothers, and then going through these journeys with their own mums, they decided to take action.

“My wife and I said we need to help the people who helped us and our family. And one night, we saw an ad for Relay For Life and we knew this was our chance. What an amazing, extremely well-run event for a such great cause!”

Their team, The Big Gang Relay, started in 2019 and quickly made a name for themselves with their creative team themes, great fundraising efforts and by truly getting into the spirit of the event.

“In our first year, we put the word out and managed to get 22 people in our team. By this year, we’ve had to cap the numbers because we’ve had such incredible support! We’ve been so lucky to get sponsors including Drakes Saints Road, Sandy Creek Golf Club, BIG4 Renmark, Woolworths, Telstra… and then so many other small businesses, which also makes a huge difference. Then in the lead-up, we’ve run a big lawn bowls day last year, and a sausage sizzle and a raffle with an incredible prize at the Hahndorf Resort,” Troy says proudly.

But it’s the team’s work at the Relay For Life event that really gets people talking each year. “We managed to win the award for the best tent set-up last year, which was awesome! We based it on the Big Bang Theory and had Marvel characters and everyone hired costumes and really got into the spirit of it all! I think it’s that bit of fun when there’s so much emotion and hard work going into it all that can put a smile on some faces. And we definitely have fun doing it!”

As for this year’s event, Troy and the team are ready to roll, with big plans for a theme that will delight fans of a certain boy wizard! “We had an absolute blast last year and this year will be even bigger and better!”

Amongst all the emotion and effort that goes into it, Troy says the sense of fun makes Relay For Life an event to remember and he can’t recommend it highly enough to others. “Jump on board, get a team together for some fun, some tears and some hard work. Let’s help the people who help us!”

The Gawler Relay For Life will be held on from Saturday 2 to Sunday 3 April at Princes Park in Gawler.

You can join Troy and register a team by visiting cancersa.org.au/get-involved/events/relay-for-life/.
Or can show your support for Troy and his team by donating here.