I have always been a person who likes to help out, but since being diagnosed with cancer I have made a point of going the extra mile to give back. I had many family, friends and, organisations help me through my breast cancer journey, so I promised myself when I got through to the other side of treatment, that I would give back where I could.
Have you ever sat back and thought about what you could do for someone? It could be as simple as cooking a few meals to take the load off a busy friend who is working long hours. Maybe you could babysit some children so the mother and father can have some time out, or maybe it is mowing someone’s lawn, or driving them to appointments, it doesn’t need to be much but every bit helps.
I spent two years of my life giving everything I have to my two daughters primary school. On a whim one night I offered my services to the school principal to chair the parents and friends committee. As soon as the words ‘I will do it’ were out of my mouth, I slightly regretted it. I spent those two years practically giving every spare moment to raising much-needed funds for the school by packing hot lunches, cooking snags at countless sausage sizzles, and organizing trivia nights and multiple fundraisers. All this whilst I was still working, being a wife and a mum. My time as the P&F chair was hard and time-consuming but I can honestly say it was one of the best things I have done. It was a voluntary position that filled my heart many times over. I met parents at the school whose paths I wouldn’t normally cross, I got to watch the faces on the children break into smiles when they received their hot lunches and I got to see the money we raised put back into the school and give my children an education that I could only have dreamt of.
In the past, I have held funny fundraisers. All girls nights, as us mums don’t get out much, and I like to bring all my friends together and have some fun. We had a ‘bogan fitness’ day where we started out getting dressed up in bogan…ish fitness attire. You can’t even begin to imagine what some costumes looked like, but yes, there was a lot of lycra and leopard print! That day we participated in a Zumba class, barefoot lawn bowls and we ended it all with a party plan party at my house. We had mini competitions, lots of prizes and many laughs. It’s crazy the amount of money you raise, and all you need to do is give people a good time, and make them laugh. You can give back with a smile on your face!
What I love to do is give back to the cancer community. I often run fundraisers to raise money for the Cancer Council, as they helped me through some harrowing times. I was recently asked if I would hold a virtual morning tea for the Cancer Council’s Biggest Morning Tea. Being in this new era of COVID 19 it wasn’t possible to have many people in one place at a time, so a morning tea held via a zoom call was the only way to go. The local paper did an interview with me over the phone and their photographer, Adam came by the house and took a few pics. I may have gone a little overboard with the scones, jam and cream, and the vanilla cake with frosting, but it wouldn’t be morning tea if there weren’t any goodies to sink your teeth into now would it? Add a steaming hot coffee and what else could you ask for? Holding a virtual morning tea was not only easy but by having a newspaper article to bring attention to the cause and making people aware of the Cancer Council and their services was just another way I could help out and give back.
I have volunteered in the local cancer centre, I have also trained with breast cancer charities so I can be called upon to help others and often put my hand up to help out with their campaigns. I’ve delivered meals on wheels, been the ambassador at The Mother’s Day Classic, here in my hometown of Ballarat and I have donated countless hours to help Relay for Life events. Some would say I am crazy for adding extra duties voluntarily into my already busy life, but I believe there is always room to help out where I can.
Once I had a person call me Mother Theresa, it wasn’t meant as a compliment it was directed at me as an insult. At first, the comment hurt, but when I sat back and thought about it, I concluded that I needed to take the insult and turn it into something good. I am out there giving my all and making a difference whilst this person never gives back and doesn’t volunteer. It makes me happy to help others and I wasn’t going to allow this person to put me down in any way and make me feel horrible for doing so. That insult opened my eyes to how many people don’t give back. Hopefully, I can show others by giving up some of my time, it can make a difference, in so many ways.
I long for the day that no one has to hear the words ‘you have cancer’ and by hosting fundraisers, raising awareness and offering help to fellow cancer patients, and volunteering my time, it's making a difference. I love to see the looks on people’s faces when I have helped them out, it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I don’t do it because I want a pat on the back and accolades, I do it because I want to make a difference.
So… no, I’m not Mother Theresa, but I am someone who can empathise, someone who can offer my time to make changes even if they are small ones. I am someone who is, and will be forever grateful for the help I received, and I choose to give back. Do you?