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Relay For Life: Our Little Miracle

By Ray White Whitsunday

It was going to take more than a deluge of rain to deter Todd Marshall and his young family from fronting at the Whitsundays Relay for Life at the weekend.

Mr Marshall, an event patron for the annual cancer fundraiser at the Proserpine Showgrounds, is a survivor himself after winning his battle with testicular cancer.

Now 26 and father of six-month-old miracle baby Willow, the Proserpine catering supplier and auxiliary firefighter, was just 20 when he found an alarming lump.

Even so, he admits he ignored it for two months before finally succumbing to the pleadings of wife Sara to visit his doctor to have it checked out.

“It could have been the end of me if I hadn’t,” he said on Saturday, just minutes before cutting the ribbon on the 18-hour event.

“I’d cancelled two [doctor] appointments before that, but before I knew it I was diagnosed and operated on.”

For the next three months Mr Marshall underwent daily chemotherapy treatment, losing his hair but clinging to hope that he’d caught the cancer early enough. Six years later he’s now been told he has a 95% chance of survival, although he knows he was one of the lucky ones.

“Stop being masculine and get yourself looked at it,” was his message for other young men at the weekend.

“It could literally be the difference between life and death.”

As for extending the brood anytime soon, he said he and his wife didn’t want to push their luck. They defied doctors to conceive naturally – he was given just a 50% chance – and then Sara had the drama of delivering Willow in the middle of Cyclone Debbie.

Co-chair Maria Plemenuk and relay patron Todd Marshall at the relay start.

Relay for Life co-chair and fellow cancer survivor Maria Plemenuk said she was also taking each day as it came.

Ms Plemenuk discovered a lump in her right breast five years ago while having a shower.

Seven months of harrowing chemo treatment followed before she was able to settle back into some resemblance of normal life.

“It’s just one of those things I learn to live with and make the most of it – it’s all about attitude,” she said.

Although the pouring rain on Saturday eventually saw the event called off early for safety reasons, organisers said it was far from a washout.

More than 150 entrants in 15 local teams raised just over $16,000, with Ray White One Fish, Two Fish, the top team on $4671, and cancer survivor Kerry Diblin the leading individual fundraiser on $1240.

“No words can express our gratitude to all the teams that showed up to our relay and stayed and walked in the rain and sloshed through the mud until we sadly had to make a sad call to finish the relay early,” said co-chair Wendy Barker.

“It touched our hearts that no matter what the weather threw at us we all came together and continued as far as we could. We all showed cancer what we are made of no matter what life throws at us.”

Entrants try to keep their face paint dry in the pouring rain on Saturday.

Source: Whitsunday Times.

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