MARLENE Ryan’s fellow Osborne residents desperately wanted to help the mother-of-four in her battle with brain cancer.
She greatly appreciated people’s support, but was unnerved by the perception of many “that I was going to die”.
Instead, she suggested the community help raise money for the Cure for Life Foundation.
Tonight that will culminate in a charity dinner and auction to be attended by almost 300 people at the Osborne football club.
The foundation’s driving force is renowned neurosurgeon Charlie Teo, who is convinced it can eventually lead to a cure for brain cancer.
A two-course dinner will be followed by the auction, where bidders can put their cash up for everything from a signed Hawthorn 2013 premiership team jumper to a week’s holiday in a Noosa apartment or a load of firewood.
Mrs Ryan has had three brain tumours. The first was diagnosed four years ago, a second large one in the middle of last year and a third in May.
A nurse by profession, her connection with Dr Teo goes back a long way.
“I was a nurse in emergency and he had just finished his exams and was working with us as a surgical registrar,” she said.
“When I found my brain tumour I knew to ring Charlie Teo.”
Mrs Ryan said she initially had been told that first tumour was probably benign and that nothing needed to be done.
“I saw Charlie. He operated — it was actually cancerous and he took it out,” she said.
“I’ve had three tumours taken out and I’m on my second lot of chemotherapy and I’m now doing really well.”
Mrs Ryan sees Dr Teo — who is a possible attendee at tonight’s fund-raising dinner that his chief executive officer Cath Stace will attend — once every three months for a magnetic resonance imaging scan.
“Charlie’s looked after me so well. He is very much pushing you into ‘get up, keep going, don’t get sick’,” she said.
The second tumour was as large as “a small avocado”.
“It was huge, it took them nearly five hours to take it out,” she said.
“I started radiotherapy and chemo afterwards and everybody started treating me as sick and I was actually doing OK, I was fine.”
Mrs Ryan said Dr Teo hoped to find a cure within eight years.
“That’s why I said this is the best thing you could do for me, not bring food,” she said.
“I can cook, I can clean, I can look after my kids, but we need money to find a cure for this cancer.”
She said she and her husband, John, were totally upfront with their children — aged nine, seven, five and 2½ — over their mother’s illness.
Mrs Ryan paid tribute yesterday to the committee that organised tonight’s event.
Mrs Ryan was humbled by people’s support.
“This community is amazing and I don’t think this would happen in the city,” she said.