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Melinda’s Story

I’m connected to the country because I was very lucky to grow up on a sheep and wheat farm in Narromine. To be completely honest with you, it was a great way to be brought up I was very lucky, I actually joked that from a young age my parents already knew I was very competitive because when I was rounding up the sheep I would try to beat the sheep dog.

It feels right for me to be an ambassador – of Can Assist because I have my own story of my beautiful mum. She was only 26 years old when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. My brother and I were very young at the time but I still remember to this day her spending so much time in Sydney in hospital fighting this cancer . Its hard enough having cancer in your family, it’s just so tough, not only for the person who is dealing with the cancer but also for the family unit around them trying to cope, so for me I feel very honoured to be part of this charity.

Unfortunately my mother had cancer three times in her life, which was obviously incredibly challenging for not only her, but also for us as a family. I remember the second time she repeatedly had to come to Sydney, all that travel, you know, 400kms just to get to treatment. And it was in that moment that I thought, you know, wow, how lucky it was really for David and I, to be living here in Sydney at the time, to be able to look after her, when obviously she was very sick. It made me think of all the other country people that were out there, you know, how do they deal with it when you don’t actually have a support network in Sydney, not to mention accommodation, and the cost that that would entail.

Reflecting on that time when Mum was getting treatment for cancer, I look back at my father and think how challenging it would have been for him as well. Here he is, trying to keep a farm running, keeping sheep alive, doing everything that he needed to do for that all to survive whilst knowing his wife was going through this really difficult battle. Of course he would come to Sydney as much as he could, but I’m sure he would have wanted to be there all the time to support Mum especially when she was so ill after having chemotherapy.

It was lucky that we were there and I’m sure that’s what a lot of country people probably find very challenging, they just want to be there with their loved ones. But in reality, especially financially, that is very difficult, which is also very challenging for that patient the one who’s actually fighting the cancer and going through the treatment. I think that it’s not only financial support that you really need, it’s that emotional support as well.