13 January 2017
Having helped raise an incredible $10,000 in the fight against bowel cancer, travelling more than 700km and running around in her undies in front of 100,000 people, team Captain of the Undies Run team, the ‘Goonies,’ Stephanie Drake sadly lost her battle with bowel cancer on Friday, 2 December 2016.
Mere weeks after her passing, this top fundraising team that made the trek from Melbourne to Adelaide to drop their dacks for the 2016 People’s Choice Undies Run for Bowel Cancer is now banding together once more. In their grief, they hope to show their Captain, Steph, that she wasn’t alone and that they will continue to fight Australia’s second-largest cancer killer in her memory.
A Melbourne local, Stephanie was a normal 28 year old who began experiencing stomach pains that she thought was normal constipation. Gradually, the pain became so severe that her fiancé Andrew took her to the emergency room.
Scans showed a tumour blocking her bowel and Steph was diagnosed with Stage IV bowel cancer in 2013, which – after a valiant battle – sadly claimed her life at just 31 years of age.
Good friend and sister-in-law, Neisha, says Steph led the group’s participation in the cheeky fun run.
“Steph heard about the Undies Run and decided to get a bunch of her girlfriends together to make the trip from Melbourne to Adelaide for the 2016 event. We had such a great time that we decided to make it an annual trip,” Neisha said.
“She planned to be there for the 2017 event and we will still be there, running in our undies to raise funds and honour our beautiful friend,” she said.
The ‘Goonies’ was named after Steph’s netball team. As an avid netballer, Steph would schedule treatment days so she would be ok to play – determined not to let the cancer take over all of her life.
With 100,000 spectators, a ready-made 2.3km racing arena and more than 1,700 runners decked out in matching underwear, the People’s Choice Undies Run is a great way to encourage people to easily talk about Australia’s second largest killer.
“Being exposed to bowel cancer the way our team has, I don’t think any topic about the bowels has not been discussed,” Neisha said.
“The reason for doing the run is to push awareness of early detection to make sure what happened to Steph can be avoided when treated early,” she said.
Up to 90% of bowel cancers can be treated effectively if found early and screening is therefore vital for people not displaying any symptoms in finding early-stage bowel cancer, when treatment has the best chance of success.
The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program is available for Australians aged 50 years and over but anyone who notice a change in their body should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Each year, hundreds of South Australians strip off before the People’s Choice Classic opening race of the Santos Tour Down Under cycling event in Adelaide and run, jog and stroll in their smalls to raise big bucks and awareness for bowel cancer, and since its inception, the Undies Run has raised more than $600,000 for Cancer Council SA.