"The determination to fight cancer and hopefully one day find a cure through fundraising became even more important."
My cancer journey
My name is Rob Stanley-Jones. I am married with three girls, and we have been a part of the Sutherland Shire Relay For Life for over ten years. We originally took part in Relay through our local church team.
In October 2005 I discovered a lump in my neck, which I thought would simply be a swollen gland due to a recent cold. When it didn’t reduce after a course of antibiotics, I visited my GP and she recommended a biopsy. At that point I was unsure what a biopsy was, and when the results eventually came back to reveal that I had some form of cancer, I was absolutely shocked. This was a Friday, and she told me that she had booked me in to see an oncologist on the following Tuesday. I told her I wouldn’t be able to make it as it was Melbourne Cup day, and as a hotel licensee of a large local pub, I would be very busy! She soon made me realise how serious my diagnosis was, and I remember going into physical shock, shaking uncontrollably.
It was soon revealed via ultrasound that I had testicular cancer – a 3mm tumour on my left testicle had worked it’s way up my abdomen, and the into the lymph glands in my neck. After several operations, including removal of the testicle, and extensive abdominal surgery to remove affected lymph nodes, plus a nine week program of chemotherapy, by the middle of 2006 I was on the road to recovery, with my hair starting to grow back and my scars gradually healing.
During this time our Relay took place (always the first weekend in May) and I was made patron of the event, and joined the Organising Committee. I was asked to tell my story, and received many well wishes, along with people using the word “inspiring.” This made me realise the effect that talking openly about this insidious disease can have.
What Relay means to me
Not long after I was diagnosed, my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. With no history of cancer in our family, it was suddenly a massive part of our lives, and the determination to fight it and hopefully one day find a cure through fundraising became even more important to us. Knowing that Cancer Council deal with all questions about all cancers, they were and have been the people we have most relied upon for assistance. Since then, and for the next few years, Relay became an extremely important event for us to celebrate the fact that we are both Survivors, to remember those we’ve lost and to keep coming up with new ways to grow our event for the purpose of additional fundraising. Four years ago this month, one of the barmen where I work passed away from brain cancer, and only in July this year we lost my dad to leukemia.
How Relay has made a difference in my life
Our Relay has grown astronomically in the last fourteen years to become one of the biggest events in our community, and for me personally it has become a year-long passion and focus to ensure that each year surpasses the last in creating an ambience and a fundraising platform that members of our community hold in extremely high regard, and one that they will continue to support year on year. We are constantly brainstorming more innovative ideas to grow the event, and have been pioneers in a lot of ways for other Relays.
Having lost my dad so recently, it has reinforced my determination to continue the fight to raise more funds to support sufferers and their families, and of course hopefully one day to find a cure.
Our congratulations go out to Rob, who has been named as one of the 2015 Global Heroes of Hope!