07 March 2018
Annie Borg couldn’t watch her mother Therese go through cancer treatment without doing anything about it, so she decided to host a head shave fundraiser with her 22-year-old son, Jordon in their home town of Naracoorte. Little did she know that the whole town would come together to raise an incredible $17,757.50, which Annie wanted to direct towards fully refurbishing two Lodge guestrooms, where her mother had stayed during her treatment in Adelaide. This is Annie’s story.
Mum was first diagnosed with melanoma eight years ago. After having it removed, and not having anything to worry about for five years, she had a recurrence. That one was cut out, and then in June 2016 cancer was found in the lymph node. During treatment for this third occurrence was when mum first stayed at Cancer Council Lodge—Greenhill for three months.
Mum was part of a 12-month trial, and it was during the second to last treatment that they found more tumours in her leg. Again, we were fortunate enough to stay at the Lodge while the tumours were removed.
I got talking to Ravi, the Supportive Accommodation Manager, while I was there. I was so appreciative that the accommodation was there for mum and dad when they needed it, and I wanted to see if there was anything I could do to give back. It was only then that I learned that funding for upgrading the accommodation is entirely reliant on donations from the community, and that it would cost about $8,000 to renovate just one of the fifty five rooms.
From that first conversation, my imagination fired up. I was sitting on the bus as we were being driven into the city, thinking about how I could raise the money. I had long hair at the time, so it was a no brainer to shave my head. I spoke to my son, Jordon. He had a ‘man bun’ which he was very attached to, but when I asked if he’d get rid of it to raise funds for Cancer Council, he was on board straight away.
It kind of snowballed from that first idea and just kept getting bigger and bigger. I started with a crowdfunding page and a Facebook page, and the support started pouring in—we’d raised $5,500 before the night of the head shave. We held the event at Avenue Inn in Naracoorte, where 53 supporters joined us for a two-course meal and a live auction before the big shave.
It was emotional, weird, and liberating to see my long hair falling to the ground, and Mum even had a go on the clippers!
Funds on the night tallied $9,495, giving us a total of over $17,000. It’s a staggering figure, and sadly, it’s because so many people can relate to the experience of seeing a loved one go through cancer. The community was so supportive—I couldn’t go out to lunch without someone coming cover to give me money because they’d heard about what we were doing. You can just never know who has their own personal story, and the generous reaction from the whole community has absolutely blown my mind.
Jordan got married in Broken Hill last year, and my parents actually stayed with people that they met at the Lodge. Country people are so welcoming and friendly, the spirit really shines through and continues outside of your stay. The Lodge really does become a home away from home, where you make new friends and look out for each other.
I’m very humbled to know that I’ve helped some people going through a hard time to have a nicer stay, because that time at the Lodge meant so much to us. And it’s even more encouraging to see that the motivation to fundraise is contagious—my uncle has since been inspired to host his own fundraiser!
Everyone can fundraise—you don’t have to be a big party planner or a people person. Just do what you can, in your own way, because you don’t know how many lives you’re going to change.
In the last year, Cancer Council SA provided accommodation to 8,979 guests from rural South Australia. It is only through generous donations, and through community fundraisers like Annie, that this subsidised service remains possible. Make a donation today, or call 1300 65 65 85 to talk about hosting your own fundraiser.