The last few years haven’t been easy for Jodie and her family; first she lost her beloved father after an 18-month journey with melanoma.
“By the time he was diagnosed, the melanoma had already metastasised. He ended up with cancer in his brain. He had a horrible, relatively quick cancer journey.”
Sadly, there was more to come for Jodie, her husband Russel and their kids, Ella and Jai.
In 2015, Jodie noticed that something wasn’t quite right. “My GP’s instant response was to refer me to a colonoscopy.”
It took less than two weeks for Jodie to be given the news – she had bowel cancer, and it had already spread to her liver and lungs.
Jodie had to have radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. She responded well to the radiation, but the chemotherapy made her extremely sick.
“I did about 18 rounds of chemo, over about 44 weeks. It was the sickest I’ve ever been in my life. I lost a lot of weight – about 11 kilos in four days.”
Thankfully the treatment was successful. Jodie now says she is “well, healthy and living my best life possible. The primary cancer is gone, as well as the spots in my liver. I still have a smattering of small tumours in my lungs. I’m taking oral chemotherapy for that.”
Jodie’s now back at work full time. From her experience, came a drive to help others.
That’s why each year, she hosts a Biggest Morning Tea at her workplace.
A cuppa for a cause
It was Jodie’s daughter, Ella, who introduced her to Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea. The grade four student decided that she wanted to do something to help families like hers who are affected by cancer.
“She said ‘I want to raise money for cancer’. She decided to hold a bake sale at her school for her morning tea. It was like nothing I’d ever seen. Everybody in the class bought something in and then the class sold to the rest of the school. She ended up raising over $4,500.”
Ella (holding the sign), ended up raising over $4,500 with her school.
Jodie knew she wanted to do something to support her daughter’s amazing efforts, so she decided to host a morning tea at her workplace – Latrobe City Council.
“We employ 1,000 people who work across numerous sites. It’s often difficult for us all to get together, so instead we decided to set up concurrent morning teas at the same time over multiple sites.”
Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is the easiest way to bring people together to raise funds to help those impacted by cancer.
The idea is simple, just get your friends, colleagues or community together over some tea and treats, and help fund a cancer free future.
Together with Ella’s cake stall, Jodie and her workplace raised over $9,000 that year.
And that was just the beginning. It’s now 2019 and Jodie’s Biggest Morning Teas have raised over $30,000 for people impacted by cancer.
Jodie, left, pictured with her colleagues at La Trobe City Council.
Funds raised support people and fund vital research.
“Cancer Council really supported me,” she explains. “My husband, my kids and I called the nurses on 13 11 20 and they helped us so much.
“Russell once told me – I don’t remember this – that when I was having the treatment, that I spent a lot of time trying to pull the pick-line out of my arm – I just wanted it out.
"Russ accessed the nurses just to get some advice around how to manage me. It was just about managing that really emotional, sick response. For him it was that reassurance, that voice on the end of the phone. That was fundamentally important, and that’s why I fundraise.
“The key for me is that every cent helps somebody who is affected in some way – that’s not even necessarily just the person who is diagnosed. It’s about helping all people, even the loved ones, and helping them soldier on.”
Jodie also doesn’t hesitate to emphasise the importance of cancer research.
“If we just accept what is, we just accept what we know now, then nothing changes, nothing gets better, nothing improves. I sincerely believe that there is a cure and the money that we raise for cancer research will impact that.”
Jodie and the Latrobe City Council will again be hosting an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea this year. We thank Jodie and her family for their fundraising, as well as the staff from Latrobe City Council. Thanks to you, every day, we can work towards a cancer free future.
If you’d like to be like Jodie and host a life-saving Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea this May or June, register as a host now.