11 May 2016
“Sunshine, blue skies and stiff breezes… a totally idyllic sailing lifestyle, until late 2011, when I noticed a spot on my face that would not go away!”
Rae, 56 year old Commodore of the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron will share her story at the club’s second Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea on Thursday 26 May.
After noticing a spot on her face in 2011, Rae went to the doctor for a referral to a skin specialist. It soon became apparent that, that particular spot was not the problem. The doctor noticed a spot on her back and after a biopsy, Rae was diagnosed with melanoma.
“That done, the fight began,” she said.
She explains that it wasn’t just the physical fight that was coming, but the mental one.
“With further testing and more operations for lymph node removal, it was the mental anguish of trying to deal with this insidious disease.”
Rae was most concerned with how she herself and her family was going to cope with treatment options and survival rates.
“Amazingly, through the massive support of my husband and daughter, friends, medical staff and counselling, all was good and with the renewed vigour I carried on, back to work, continued as a flag officer at the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron, as well as enjoying all of my other activities including sailing.”
Unfortunately, three years later in mid-2014 the cancer cells returned in Rae’s elbow, other lymph nodes, liver and lungs.
She stayed positive, “I’m not going to let this get the better of me, I’ve got too much to do and to live for – bring on the next course of action,” she said.
After an operation to remove a tumour that had eaten away the elbow joint, radiotherapy and targeted immunotherapy, she continues to live happily and has follow up scans to ensure it remains stable.
With an estimated 1 in 2 Australians to be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85, Rae has changed her daily routine to include applying sunscreen, covering up and being aware of sun exposure, especially when out sailing.
Any sun damage can last a life time and the fact remains that early detection can improve one’s chance of survival.
Cancer Council SA Chief Executive, Lincoln Size, said support of fundraising events is crucial to ensure Cancer Council can continue to help the community.
“With melanoma being the fourth most common cancer in this country, we need to continue to educate children in schools as well as people in workplaces and clubs to protect their skin,” Mr Size said.
“These services can only be provided thanks to the generous support of the community!”
Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is one of Cancer Council’s leading annual fundraising events. Now in its 23rd year, the official event date is Thursday, 26 May, and morning tea fundraisers can be hosted throughout May and June.
“This May and June many people from across Australia will be getting together to share a cup of tea and support those affected by cancer. A morning tea is a great way to get family, friends, colleagues or even community together for a good cause,” Mr Size said.
“I encourage everyone to get involved, whether it be hosting a morning tea, attending an event, making a donation or purchasing a piece of merchandise.
Cancer Council SA is hoping to raise over $1.3million ($13.8m nationally) through 4,000 South Australian hosts.
“All funds raised through Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea help fund Cancer Council’s life-saving cancer research, prevention programs, and support services for cancer patients and their families.”
The Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron morning tea is on Thursday 26 May with everyone welcome. Entertainment includes Will Metzer and female vocalist Nina with ‘Jazz It Up’ as well as a raffle, quiz and games.
It has been almost two years since relapse and Rae remains as optimistic as ever.
“I live with the remaining side effects but it’s a small price to pay. Most of all I continue to enjoy each and every day – remember yesterday, dream of tomorrow but live for today!”
Rae will share her story at the morning tea.