Albury born and raised boy Brendan McKenzie-McHarg was diagnosed with bowel cancer days before his first daughter was born in 2007.
He was 32 and, incredibly, he beat it.
Brendan and his wife Belinda were both medical scientists at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne and they had three beautiful children in Caitlin, Chloe and Caleb, his mother Cecily McKenzie McHarg said.
But one day Brendan’s back just gave way while he was swinging the girls around in the supermarket.
As it turned out, the cancer had returned and metastasised behind his heart, aorta and spine and he could no longer walk.
An emergency back surgery saw 27cm steel rods inserted into the surrounding six vertebrae to support and strengthen the remaining bones.
Despite the most valiant of efforts, Brendan lost the fight for his life on November 10, 2013.
Some years later his parents, who lived nearby the Albury Base Hospital, watched as the new cancer centre started to take shape along Borella Road.
“As we watched the centre go up, we felt we should donate something in honour of Brendan,” Mrs McKenzie-McHarg said.
The couple had an original oil painting – a tranquil landscape of the Kiewa Valley – by Joan Lehmann in their collection and decided it should be donated for the greater good.
Coincidentally, Cecily and Joan grew up together and the artist recently returned home to Albury after nearly four decades in the US.
She is enduring a cancer battle of her own – one that has “destroyed” her art career.
Invasive tumours in the corner of her right eye were caused by exposure to radiation from a disused nuclear facility in the suburb close to where she lived, 30 miles north-west of Los Angeles.
So when Lehmann heard her painting was to be auctioned as part of a fundraiser for the new Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre, she agreed it was a fitting gesture.
The auction of the painting will be the feature event of Julie and Jim de Hennin’s morning tea fundraiser at their picturesque Talgarno property on Saturday, May 20.
The event will include lucky draw prizes and three raffles, including a locally crafted coffee table and hand-made quilt, as well as a plant and book stall.
It’s a gold coin donation entry and visitors are asked to bring along a plate of morning tea to share.
The morning tea is being held at ‘Jounama’, 697 Murray River Road, Talgarno. For more information or to donate items call (02) 6020 1136 or 0412 433 499.