Sport helped Cristy Jacka through some of her darkest days and now she's hoping her story may help others who are struggling.
The death of husband Karl, five years ago, turned Ms Jacka's world upside-down and the escapism that sport provides proved more valuable than ever during the grieving process.
Pulling on her netball dress and trying to win games for Rutherglen represented a sense of normality and a controllable objective, while the close-knit community of team-mates and friends at the club stepped up in a big way.
As one of the guest speakers at Wodonga Cricket Club's Ladies Day on Saturday, alongside Sarah Spiteri, she will reflect on the journey from Karl's stomach cancer diagnosis to his passing and her experiences since.
"It's the biggest heartbreak I've ever been through," Ms Jacka said.
"We grieved for Karl before he died, because we knew what was happening and having our clubs there really helped in the sense you could talk to someone.
"Being part of Rutherglen, going back and playing netball and being with the people who understood me helped so much.
"I had some great days when, unless you knew me, you wouldn't know what was going on and then there were other days when they were like 'oh dear, she needs to get on that netball court because she needs to work something out.'
"They supported me and that helped me get through some of those days.
"I felt perfectly safe. I could do anything, I could say anything and I knew they were there for me.
"I could get on the netball court and for an hour, everything just went away.
"I just went into another zone. It allowed me to forget who I was and I came out the other end feeling so much better because I'd been able to get something out in a healthy way.
"Sometimes I didn't want to be Cristy Jacka any more because that was really hard.
"When I stepped on the netball court, I didn't have to be that person, I could just play my role in the game.
"I was a wing-attack so my role was to set up those goalies to get the goal. That's so easy, I can do that with my eyes closed, but running my own life was a bit more difficult."
Daughter Lucy was seven when Karl died and his loss pulled the family together like never before.
"Lucy and I are a phenomenal team," Ms Jacka said.
"She is, without a doubt, the reason I'm still walking and talking.
"Lucy had her own grief to deal with and, as a parent, you jump straight in and take care of your child. But she still had gymnastics and cheerleading and had to be fed and watered so she pulled me and my Mum and Dad along.
"They're the most amazing people in the whole wide world because they jumped in, they parented me and they co-parented with me.
"They stepped into Karl's role as well.
"My Dad changed his aftershave to be the same as Karl's, so whenever Lucy was at their place, she would go 'I can smell Dad.'
"My Dad's always been a really clean-shaven man but Karl would shave in the morning and by 3pm, he had a full beard again. Lucy always stayed Thursday night with them so my Dad would not shave for two days before so she could feel the stubble still.
"Little things like that, which people wouldn't realise, Mum and Dad stepped in to help her, to help me.
"Mum would take Lucy to buy my birthday present or do Mother's Day and all of those things Karl always did.
"Those two would go off on a girl date. Lucy would tell her 'I want to get this for Mum' so they'd do that sort of stuff together.
"They're amazing and my relationship with my parents is such a strong, close relationship now. It's incredible."
Ladies Day has become an annual fixture at Les Cheesley Oval and Saturday's event, the sixth of its kind, will be held in the shade beyond the boundary while Wodonga are playing local rivals Wodonga Raiders in the provincial competition.
There's a wellness theme and afternoon tea will be served, with the event starting at 2pm.
"I'm really proud of the fact that mental health now is something people will talk about and it's not looked upon in a negative way," Ms Jacka said.
ALSO IN SPORT:
"If you say 'hey, I need some help,' people will help you.
"If you can't have your own head in the right space, you can't help anyone. If I'm no good, I'm no good to Lucy so I need to be in the best space that I can be.
"Counselling and sport have been the best things ever to be able to keep my mental health in the best place it can possibly be.
"I love giving back to the community.
"If sharing our story is helpful to other people, I think that's a really valuable thing.
"Going on the journey I've been through, I would have loved to have someone I could look towards or talk to or heard their story and given our situation a bit of hope.
"Being a teacher, I am someone who talks to people all day so it's within my wheelhouse and if I can help someone, I will."
Tickets for Ladies Day are priced at $25, with further details available from organisers Nadia Dinneen (0408 647 865) or Bronwyn Craig (0418 973 148).
"It started off as a very small gathering and it's grown every year," Mrs Dinneen said. "The ladies like a guest speaker and this year, with the inception of a wellness team at the club, we thought we'd get a couple of people in that area.
"It's a lovely afternoon tea, the cricket's on in the background and it's been really well-supported by people outside of the club so it's started to gain some real traction.
"It's no secret Cristy lost Karl when he was relatively young and she's an inspirational woman, who created the cBAGs up at the cancer hospital. She's really passionate about helping families, people suffering with cancer and going through that process.
"Cristy's a positive, upbeat person and we're all about finding solutions.
"Sarah is the owner and founder of Studio Mind and Learning and she'll be talking about her own journey but she also does a lot of mindset work and is a sociologist.
"She's doing an eight-week program with the Wodonga Bulldogs which is all about learning how to respond rather than react."
Ladies Day is being sponsored by Blacklocks Ford Wodonga this year and Ms Jacka can't wait to play her part in the conversation.
"I'll be talking about how important community groups, especially sporting groups, are when it comes to helping you through different things," she said.
"All through my life, I've been part of heaps of different sporting groups and clubs and it's amazing to see what happens when you're part of a group and what they will do for you and how they will help you in any situation."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: