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  • Time and effort are invaluable donations toward a cancer free future

    Time and effort are invaluable donations toward a cancer free future
    05 December 2017

    A work friend’s wife was fighting ovarian cancer, and my dad was being treated for oesophageal cancer; it seemed like the motivation we needed to do something about cancer in our workplace community. We were both keen bakers, so we combined our desire to contribute with our love of cooking to host a joint Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea event.

    Sadly, neither my friend’s wife nor my dad won their battle, but we continued to host an annual Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea in their memory. Over the past few years the total has increased steadily, and this year I raised over $1,500.00.

    From that routine, I found more and more ways to support. Four years later I signed on as a Daffodil Day volunteer, manning stalls selling merchandise on the day and chatting to so many generous people. Four years after that, I also became a volunteer for the Tour Down Under, handing out sunscreen in the crowd.

    It’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve been an Ambassador for Cancer Council SA, coordinating groups of volunteers at various events and activities. Having come up through the ranks myself, I understand why they give up their free time to give back to the community—because when we all do our small part, we can make a real difference.

    The most rewarding part of it all is knowing that every dollop of sunscreen we hand out, or Daffodil Day pin we sell, or cake we bake, is helping to raise awareness and much needed funds for everything that Cancer Council SA does.

    Meeting new people in the community is a big part of why I do it, but I admit it can get very emotional when we get chatting about their cancer connection. Hearing people talk about their personal experiences, or those of the people they love, is very moving. Cancer impacts everyone in one form or another, and it’s fantastic to see so many people who take that experience and turn it into a positive by choosing to support Cancer Council SA with their time as well as their money.

    I remember recently I was at an event, when one of the other volunteers was telling me that a family member of hers was dealing with cancer. As it turned out, that family member was someone with whom I work. I considered him a good friend, but had no idea what he was going through. It’s in those moments that it hits you—one diagnosis impacts so many people, and the ripples keep on spreading.

    But by the same logic, one small action can also change the course of the lives of people around you, whether it’s offering a shoulder to lean on, or educating someone about simple prevention behaviours. When I lost my father, I relied heavily on the support of Cancer Council SA. Having someone to talk to in a time like that is invaluable.

    Recently two of my work colleagues have been diagnosed with cancer, one for the second time. When I see cancer continuing to devastate people’s lives, I’m even more determined to do whatever I can to help. I volunteer so that other families don't need to lose a loved one, and to give back to an organisation that helped me when I needed it most. A small donation of my time means that all the money raised is directed to where it will have the maximum impact, and it allows Cancer Council SA’s resources to go further at more events, ultimately boosting the awareness we can raise.

    To anyone tossing around the idea of volunteering, I would urge you to just try it out; there’s no harm in committing to one event to begin with and see if it’s for you. Cancer Council SA has a volunteer presence at some really iconic SA events, and it’s as much about having fun and making connections as it is about raising awareness and funds.

    Cancer Council SA is recruiting volunteers for upcoming events including Tour Down Under on 14–21 January, People’s Choice Undies Run for Bowel Cancer on 14 January, and Adelaide Central Relay For Life on 24–25 February. To register your interest, visit the Cancer Council SA volunteer page

    Your support means the world. 

    Mel Whalen.

    Cancer Council SA Ambassador. 

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