WHEN Sue Shaw was just 16 years old, she lost her mother to brain cancer.
After dinner one evening, her mum, Betty, had a fit and began convulsing on the floor of the family’s Mt Julian home.
She was rushed by ambulance to Mackay Hospital where the doctors performed some tests and discovered a tumour the size of an orange on the right side of her brain.
An operation in Brisbane and radiotherapy gave her another 18 months with her family, but she eventually lost her battle in 1982.
Now 49, Sue believes a cure for cancer would have not only saved her mother but also changed the course of her life.
That’s why she’s walking in this year’s Cancer Council Queensland Whitsunday Relay For Life.
“I probably went off the rails a little bit after she passed away. I had dad’s support but I didn’t have a mother there to help me through everything,” she recalls.
“I had a couple of years where I was lost basically; 16 is not a good age to lose your mother.”
After Betty’s death, Sue’s father began fundraising for cancer. He wrote three poetry books and donated $14,000 of the proceeds to cancer research, and $26,000 to other charities.
Since then, Sue’s mother-in-law has survived breast cancer, her father-in-law has survived prostate cancer, and her brother has survived leukaemia and bowel cancer.
“I think it’s fitting for me to try and help fundraise for cancer,” she said.
Sue, along with her team-mates from Ray White, will take to the Whitsunday Sportspark on the weekend as part of this year’s Whitsunday Relay For Life.
The relay begins at 3pm Saturday and teams will continue walking for 18 hours – keeping their team baton moving continuously throughout the two-day event in support of all Queenslanders affected by cancer.
Cancer research has come leaps and bounds since Sue lost her mother to the disease, and she hopes that, by taking part in Relay for Life, she is able to make a difference.
“Things are improving all the time. If we had the technology then that we had now, mum probably would have survived,” she said.
“A family friend has brain cancer; she’s 26 and recently had surgery and she’s going great. The difference in her outcome to Mum’s outcome is huge.”
More than 300 people will take part in the relay.
You can support them by turning up on the day, or by visiting http://www.relayforlife.org. au or phoning the Fundraising Hotline 1300 65 65 85.