Annette was first diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in November 2017, one week after her 38th birthday. The news she had Ovarian Cancer, dubbed ‘the disease that whispers’ due to the subtle symptoms it exhibits, came as a complete shock to everyone.
At the time, Annette’ and husband Alan’s young boys, Riley and Logan, were only 6 and 3 years old. What followed was 7 months of trips to Brisbane for surgery, scans, chemotherapy and doctor appointments. It also meant missed milestones such as her boys first days of school and kindy which broke her heart.
After a year she said, “she would never wish upon her worst enemy” , Annette was given the all clear. To celebrate being healthy again Annette and Alan climbed Walsh’s Pyramid in Gordonvale. The climb is challenging for even the fittest of people let alone someone who had just recovered from Cancer.
Annette was so grateful for the help provided by Mummy’s Wish, in the way of recordable teddy bears for the boys when they missed mum and regular house cleaning, and wanted to share her story and raise money.
Those that knew Annette would acknowledge how private she was. For her to post about her illness and recovery in such a public forum is testament to the level of gratitude she felt for the assistance provided by Mummy’s Wish.
Annette was so surprised that she raised over $3,000 in just a week for Mummy’s Wish! She had to keep increasing the fundraising goal. Her and Alan completed the climb although it wasn’t easy. Annette was determined to do it without hiking poles and Alan told us years later she wouldn’t accept his help either.
She was so tired she had to lift her legs with her arms to physically get over logs or take steps down. Her determination to complete the climb to celebrate being healthy again amazed everyone who knew her.
About a month after the climb, Annette and I met in Brisbane to have a sister’s Christmas together. It coincided with one of her blood tests. Sitting in the doctor’s office she got the news her cancer had returned more aggressively and she had to be admitted at the Mater Private Hospital straight away.
My role when Annette was first diagnosed was to help where I could with the boys and to keep their regular routine which is what Annette insisted.
Alan and my mother had spent a large amount of time in the hospital supporting Annette through her medical tests and recovery. This was the first time I had been exposed to the array of hospital tests, endless questions, waiting times and the roller coaster of emotions that come with different test results.
It was confronting for me and I could not imagine what it had been like for Annette. However, she was a favourite with the hospital staff as she never complained and managed to still smile.
Annette returned home to Cairns; however, she was never out of hospital long since her diagnosis in December. Ovarian cancer really is an insidious disease and Annette could not understand how she could have such disease inside her and still feel relatively ok and pain free. Behind her smile, we never really comprehended how sick she was – which made her climb up the Pyramid a few months earlier even more remarkable.
After Annette passed away and I got to know some of her friend I got the sense that people wanted to help and do something but were unsure what to do. That is why in 2020, I decided to organise a hike up Walsh’s Pyramid in memory of Annette. I am a strong advocate for being out in nature to help with mental health, and I have certainly needed my nature time outs since Annette passed away.
This hike in her memory was to advocate being out in nature to help with healing, celebrate being healthy and to raise money and awareness for Mummy’s Wish as it was a charity close to Annette’s heart.
A group of 20 family and friends – including Riley and Logan who hiked half-way (still a 2 hour+ hike!) – gathered and completed the hike. We managed to raise $5,746 for Mummy’s Wish.
It was amazing for people who love Annette so dearly came and hiked together. I know many gained a deeper appreciation of Annette’s strength and determination to do such a challenging climb after being so unwell.
We are going to continue to hike in Annette’s memory with a climb up Walshs Pyramid on Saturday the 16th October and raise awareness for Mummy’s Wish. We want to share Annette’s story and encourage others to organise a walk or a hike to commemorate their own journey back to health or hike in memory of a loved one now passed.
The activities can be anywhere in Australia and as challenging as you want them to be. It would be wonderful to connect and build up a community of women and their support crew.
If you are interested in registering a hike for cancer or finding out how to do so please email us or sign up for a virtual information session via the button below.
Join us at one of our virtual information sessions.