All cancer sufferers remember too well the initial shock and despair when they received the diagnosis, trying to come to grips with the implications for them and their families and friends, using Dr Google to try and understand the dreadful disease and the painful and exhausting treatment ahead, and signing up to support groups and newsletters to hear the plight of others in their situation.
I was attracted to a charitable group called ‘Rare Cancers Australia’ as I was drawn to their honesty, common sense approach and informative resources to helping cancer sufferers.
The charity was formed by a husband and wife after being advised by the wife’s oncologist that the extremely expensive medications were not funded by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. They were so upset that they decided to start a charity with the purpose of assisting cancer sufferers who could not afford the medications, to purchase medications and help prolong their lives. With some of the rare cancers there may be no set treatment plan for the disease. The costs of medications could be tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The wife had been diagnosed with a rare form of Thyroid Cancer. In 2011 she decided to walk from Canberra all the way to the top of Mount Kosciusko to raise awareness of the disease (including the Government) and the challenges victims faced with a view to raising money to support people who were not financially capable of affording the treatments.
When I heard about the Mt K challenge I just had to be involved! I have always been interested in visiting the Snowy Mountains area when there was not any snow and this challenge really appealed to me. The idea to help anybody in this situation and to raise money to help make their journey more bearable was something that myself and my son really wanted to be involved in.
On Saturday 17th March my son, Dylan and I travelled to Jindabyne to take part. Not only was it a worthwhile cause, it was an incredible experience. The sheer beauty of the scenery, the feeling of serenity and the cool fresh mountain air were a stark reminder of the beauty of our world and the privilege of life.
The climb was 13.5 kilometres up the highest mountain in Australia (over 2,000m above sea level)! I got to experience the climb with 500 like-minded people from all walks of life, whether touched by a rare cancer or not. It was an empowering feeling I won’t ever forget. My family will be doing the walk again next year.