The week when Bec Gouveia stood up before thousands to talk about cancer coincided with the first anniversary of her mother’s death.
“So it was extra special, and extra hard,” the Killara woman said.
But the crowd at last year’s Border Relay For Life responded warmly as Mrs Gouveia and her brother David described how their mum lived with cancer for nearly 20 years.
“We’d come down off the stage and random people just giving cuddles and telling us how brave we were, just the community spirit,” she said.
The 17th annual Border Relay For Life takes place on October 27-28, with nominations for the 2018 Relay Hero of Hope now open.
Registered teams have already collected about $92,000 for the 24-hour relay, which raises money for Cancer Council NSW programs and research.
Sandra Milton’s children felt she would have loved the fact her story was shared during the 2017 event.
“I think she would have been really proud of us kids for doing it and she would have just been absolutely honoured,” Mrs Gouveia said.
Mrs Milton’s cancer diagnosis in 1997 came soon after her husband John had died, with their three children barely into their teens.
“It was just really, really scary, we didn’t know what was going to happen, we’d just lost Dad and Mum’s got cancer,” Mrs Gouveia said.
But Mrs Milton did not let her illness define her, continuing her work as a mental health nurse and making the best of whatever happened.
There were overseas trips, shopping expeditions and an appreciation for all occasions, even something as small as going for coffee.
“She said it’s once you stop, you sit and think about what’s going on and you can easily turn into a bit of a sad sack, so she just kept busy,” her daughter recalled.
“Family was everything, we were always doing stuff together. She had goals, you know, seeing us all get married, that sort of thing, she never thought she’d get there, but she did.”
Cancer Council NSW said an estimated 324 people in the Albury local health network would be diagnosed with cancer this year, with about 105 deaths expected.
At Border Relay For Life, participants will take turns walking or running around the track at Birallee Park, Wodonga, to honour people touched by cancer.
Mrs Gouveia said her mother demonstrated that life kept going despite a cancer diagnosis.
“You never know what’s around the corner, good or bad, but just live each moment the best you can and make memories,” she said.
To nominate a Relay Hero of Hope, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Register or donate to Border Relay For Life at relayforlife.com.au/Border
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