Deb and Di's Story

Di loved people and people loved her.  She was the kind of person who attracted others to her and really enjoyed bringing people together.  She was enormously generous with her love, kindness and her care and support of others. 

I’m Deb and I’m a member of the very purple team Di’s Darlings.

We’re walking to honour our beautiful friend Diane who died from cancer in October 2012. 

Di loved people and people loved her.  She was the kind of person who attracted others to her and really enjoyed bringing people together.  She was enormously generous with her love, kindness and her care and support of others. 

Above all else Di loved to laugh... a lot. We all miss her laughter and her humour most of all. We miss her every single day.

Di and I first took part in a Relay For Life with our teenage sons about six years ago when we were asked to make up numbers in a team.  We had never heard of the event and had no idea what to expect.  We certainly weren’t equipped for the torrential downpour that lasted most of the night. We went home waterlogged and exhausted, but we felt like we’d contributed to a good cause and we were happy to do it. 

But we really didn’t “get it”. We didn’t fully comprehend the impact that cancer has on people’s lives, nor the support that events like this can give to those battling this insidious disease.  

But in 2009 we both really “got it”. 

That year I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  I still remember the shock that I felt when I first heard my name and the word cancer in the same sentence.

The hardest thing was telling my family and friends, seeing their faces change with disbelief and helplessness.  It was hard to tell them honestly how I was really feeling because it was easier for them to cope if they thought that I was being strong and positive all the time. I couldn’t really see it from their perspective.

A few months later I understood how they felt - Di had to tell me that she had bowel cancer. It was serious and it was terrifying to be faced with the possibility of losing someone you love so dearly and at the same time heartbreaking to see that same person endure the gruelling surgery and treatments necessary to keep them alive. Over the next 12 months we both underwent very different treatments, but we were by each other’s side. 

Going though cancer together gave Di and I the chance to be very honest with each other about what we were really thinking and feeling. During our treatments we were very grateful for the wonderful support that was offered to each of us in different ways.  

We’re both very indebted to the caring nurses who were always there to answer our calls on Cancer Council Victoria’s 13 11 20 information and support service. We called them our “telephone angels” and on a particularly bad day I called them six or seven times and their support got me through it. 

Di was also part of a trial program that was funded by Cancer Council. This actually aided her recovery after her first surgery.  

It was then that we came to understand how the funds raised for cancer research and support can make an enormous difference in people’s lives. That’s why it’s so important to keep raising funds and awareness in the community.

Di battled with two different types of cancer over four years, endured major surgeries, exhausting chemotherapy and financial stress as a single parent, but she never gave up. After her third diagnosis, she passed away suddenly. This was before she had the chance to do so many more things in her life. 

One of these things was to be part of another Relay. In 2009 we entered a team in the Albert Park event, but Di had to withdraw because of her surgery.  At the time we jokingly told her that it was a pathetic excuse to get out of walking. She was disappointed because she really wanted to be part of it. 

Well…now she is.  We are walking with her beautiful face on our banner and her spirit in our hearts.  

Cancer shatters lives and tears people apart, but in a perverse way it also brings people together.

I am very grateful to walk and be part of Relay and proud to be part of a wonderful team.  We all walk together in the hope that one day our collective reason for walking will no longer exist.

Do you want to give back to your community and help others? Find your local Relay For Life event and register today!