As we sadly see another member in our community receive his angel wings this weekend, it pushes home for me how paramount it is to drive melanoma awareness into the hearts and the minds of the Australian community and especially the youth of our fair country.
Many souls often say that you will “never understand until it happens to you”, but this statement although often true is also strangely… untrue. Melanoma, I believe… while facing terminal melanoma myself, is not just my cancer; it is a cancer and a plague that weighs heavily on the loved ones in my life. Your support crew may never truly grasp the mental battles you face as you take on cancer, but they feel each hurdle that you feel, they are there with you through the laughter and the tears, they are the light in your journey and the souls that never truly receive the full accolades for the importance of their role in your life. And sadly, they are the ones that live through the pain after the cancer is over.
Melanoma affects ALL.
Its spread is wide.
Its pain is great.
And its devastation is all-encompassing.
Just days before the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) meet to discuss its recommendations for prescription medications to be considered for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listing and fast-tracked Therapeutic Goods Administration assessment and hopeful approval, one of our shining lights and voices for our melanoma community, the lovely Shane Raisher sadly passed away on Friday night. Shane and his beautiful family’s story has been heartbreaking for me and it is one that affects me deeply. His gorgeous wife, son and their unborn baby have supported and publicly pushed to gain access to immunotherapy treatments with the hope that life extension would be possible for Shane to see the birth of his second child. This story hasn’t just emotionally affected me; it is a story that has pulled many heartstrings throughout Australia. There is so much that is unfair about Shane’s story. There is so much that makes me want to cry in love and support, and I know I am not alone.
Shane’s story is our story.
His legacy will live on in us!
Being placed in a position where you need to fundraise in order to access ‘ground breaking’ treatments that are not available in your own country (unless you have been accepted on a clinical trial), like Shane, is very similar to the start of my Stage IV journey and the reason why my directors and I and began our quest for starting The Naked Gardiner Foundation even with the hiccups and stop signs we continually face with starting a charitable foundation. Patients and their families have enough to deal with without having to fundraise for sourcing their own treatment paths. The cost for drugs is beyond extortionate for the average Australian to afford. And the PBAC and the Australian Government need to listen!!!
The Melanoma March is being held in 23 locations around Australia with the event being held in Brisbane on 22 March 2015, where I will be marching with my support crew Team Naked Gardiners’, my fiancé Anthony and our Team Captain, Winston Flap Flap. For those attending the Brisbane event, you will see us sporting our fabulous new team tees that my gorgeous friends arranged for me!!!!! So much love for such beautiful souls!!!!
Last year I participated in The March just over a month after receiving my terminal diagnosis. It was one of my first major outings after receiving the heartbreaking news and the first big walk that our fur baby participated in as a wee lil pup! We may have come in last place, with our tired lil man needing many rest breaks! We had soooo much fun and we were overcome with bundles of love from our friends and family. My fabulous team and support crew including my awesome colleagues from Stanwell Corporation Limited helped us raise approx. $6,500 in just two (2) weeks, a massive feat that overwhelmed the heck out of me! This year I am hoping to beat that generous amount! I have set my bar at $5,000 but with your help I know that we can raise even more and kick last years fundraising feat off the charts!!!
The biggest thing for me and why I am so supportive of the wonderful work that MIA do is that you can SEE it! You know where your money is going and you know that the funds that each and every person raise goes towards much-needed research that will help melanoma patients the country over.
Please join Team Naked Gardiners’ and march with us on 22 March or if you are unable to be there on the day any monetary donation even the smallest kind, would be so gratefully accepted. See my fundraising page below.
The advancements in melanoma treatments and research have escalated in the last three (3) years, and without them many patients like myself would not be experiencing promising results with minimal side effects. These treatments are not only benefiting melanoma patients but also sufferers of various forms of cancers that haven’t seen treatment development in years. Even as a cancer patient I am excited for the researchers. In years to come traditional treatments like chemotherapy and in my opinion its inhumane side effects may be a thing of the past. However, if patients are unable to access these ground breaking treatments in this rich and fair sunburnt country of ours then we shall see the ever-growing number of young people facing the scourge of this debilitating and aggressive disease.
Melanoma does not discriminate. It can affect any one of us no matter what age, skin colour or religion you are. It is Australia’s fastest growing cancer among young people. It kills. And sadly the losses are great with an Australian dying every six (6) hours. The more the country delays in granting its people access to these treatments the more beautiful souls are lost to this disease. Every loss takes its toll, believe me.
Support MIA today, stay protected and sun smart and let’s do our small part in creating melanoma awareness and taking a stand for our country and its people.
Join the march today!!! Each step taken is marching towards a cure!
Come walk with me!
With love, light and many steps xx
Logo courtesy of the fine folk at Melanoma Institute Australia