This year I will ride my 4th signature tour with Tour de Cure. Joining me on tour this year will be my Dad (Trevor), my Mum (Alison), my Sister (Jacinta) and my Brother (Zac).
One of the things I enjoy most about being a member of TdC is getting to know people along the way and hearing their stories. It is truly inspirational to hear of people's courage, strength and sheer determination.
As a family, we dedicate our 2016 signature tour to Judith MacKenzie.
When you read her story below, you will agree she is worthy of our admiration. I am sure it will reinforce for you, the importance of continuing to support research into finding a cure for cancer.
Firstly a little background information. Judith is the mother of 4 daughters. Her eldest daughter, Leanne has been close friends with my Mum for 27 years. Leanne, Judith, Don (Judith's husband) and Leanne's 3 sons, Ben, Aaron and Jordan have supported my TdC fundraising since 2013. I'm so grateful to them as they tirelessly collect cardboard and paper recycling from everyone they know and deliver it to the company who give us dollars for rubbish! I also appreciate them attending our High Teas each year without fail and spreading awareness for TdC to others. They have been a massive support and I can’t thank them enough for the time and hard work they voluntarily do for us.
Now for Judith's story.
Just over 30 years ago Judith found a lump in her right breast which she was told by the doctor was just a cyst that he would be able to drain. This wasn't possible however so preparations were made to remove it. Prior to surgery pathology results found the presence of malignant cells. What was originally thought to be a cyst resulted in Judith requiring a mastectomy where her right breast, lymph glands and muscle tissue were removed. This was followed by radiation treatment.
As those who have battled cancer know, reviews and follow ups become part of everyday life and this was no different for Judith. To this day her tests for breast cancer remain clear.
A couple of years after her mastectomy Judith began developing aneurysms. The first two in her temple and chest were surgically repaired, while the third is still present in her right kidney. Unfortunately she was also given the news that she had cancer in her lung and left kidney.
Over the years reviews and monitoring continued, checking the growth and progress of all of these conditions. During one of these reviews, in May 2015, quite by accident, a mass was detected in Judith's pancreas. More tests, more X-rays, more scans and the start of yet another unwanted journey with cancer began. Surgery to remove most of Judith's pancreas and her left kidney was scheduled for September. Unfortunately there were many complications during surgery - the expected 3-4 hours turned into 7 and it wasn't possible to safely remove her left kidney. Post-surgery has been a battle in itself. It’s slow and difficult with sometimes seemingly insurmountable walls to climb. Mixed in with all of this were more hospital stays, diagnosis of diabetes, extra medications, lots of ups and downs and prayers and support from family and friends.
Judith's healing is an ongoing journey. She is progressing well, though there is still a long road ahead.
Amazingly, Judith along with the MacKenzie family, attended our fundraising High Tea just last month. It was lovely to have her there especially knowing how much she has overcome since attending last year's High Tea.
Thank you Judith for being an inspiration to us all.
I'll finish with a quote from Leanne, "It's amazing what the body can tolerate and cope with. NEVER GIVE UP - NEVER STOP LOOKING FOR A CURE."
We wish Judith all the best for her continued recovery and with great pleasure we dedicate our 2016 Signature Tour to her.