May 2, 2016
The South Burnett’s 2016 Relay For Life fundraising campaign was officially launched on Friday morning with an emotional talk by Aussie swimming star Tracey Wickham.
Tracey chatted at the first Mayoral Breakfast for 2016 about the highs and lows of her career, enthralling the crowd with tales about her spectacular success in the 400m and 800m freestyle at the World Championships in West Berlin in 1978, her gold medals at the Edmonton and Brisbane Commonwealth Games and her world records that stood for almost 10 years.
She also spoke about her selection for the 1976 Montreal Olympics at age 13, and her withdrawal from the 1980 Moscow Games squad because of glandular fever which the media still attributes to the Games boycott by other athletes.
However, Tracey brought some of her listeners to tears as she then described the cancer diagnosis and treatment of her daughter Hannah.
Hannah was just 16 when she was diagnosed with a very rare “teenage” cancer that strikes at the soft tissues in the body.
Tracey and Hannah first thought that the lump she felt in her groin was from a soccer injury.
However, it was diagnosed as synovial sarcoma on October 2, 2004.
“I had not even heard of it before,” Tracey said.
“Cancer had … suddenly hit my family.”
Hannah underwent four rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, and had multiple surgeries to remove 12 small tumours in both legs.
Sadly, she died three years to the day of the diagnosis … on October 2, 2007.
“No one could ever understand unless you’ve been there and lost a child,” Tracey said, wiping away tears.
“I miss her terribly. I just want her back.”
Tracey said cancer affected everyone, not just the person with the diagnosis – family, friends, carers and survivors.
“It’s something I have to live with day after day.”
As she handed the microphone to South Burnett Relay For Life co-ordinator Rowena Dionysius, Tracey was given a standing ovation from the floor.
Rowena Dionysius said this year’s South Burnett Relay For Life will be held on October 9-10 at the Kingaroy Showgrounds.
Registrations are now open online
The theme for this year’s event is “medieval”.
She said funds raised would go to Cancer Council to assist with cancer research, education, support and the provision of accommodation lodges.
“If you get cancer in your family it’s not just you who are affected. It’s your friends, your extended family,” Rowena said.
“One in two people will have a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, but you can survive it.”
Rowena and South Burnett Relay For Life patron Carl Rackemann then announced the 2016 “Face Of Relay”.
Nanango resident Allen Bassett was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2008 and then liver cancer.
He has been travelling to Brisbane every Tuesday for chemotherapy since …
Carl said across Australia, on average Relay For Life raises a little over $1 per head; in the South Burnett, this figure was $4 per head.
“What this community does in supporting Relay For Life is just phenomenal,” he said.
The 2016 Relay For Life Launch / Mayoral Breakfast was hosted by South Burnett mayor Keith Campbell at the Kingaroy Town Common Hall.