Students from Coomera Anglican College are preparing for their 9th Relay for Life on 27 – 28 October, an event that is close to the hearts of many families within the College community.
One parent, Samantha Goodwin knows this journey too well. After turning 40, Sam had a routine mammogram with no family history or symptoms. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and five days later had a double mastectomy, followed by six months of chemotherapy, radiation and further surgeries.
We had a chat to Sam about her journey, how it has changed her outlook on life and why she thinks Relay for Life is such an important event.
As a parent at the College, why do you think this is such an important event for our children to be involved in?
This time last year I was going through chemotherapy and wasn’t well enough to join Relay for Life but it was heart-warming to see so many people supporting the event and fundraising for cancer. It felt like they understood and justified how hard the fight was and it gave me the strength to hang in there.
I’m not the only parent going through this experience - there are a lot of us. Relay for Life gives our kids a chance to be proud of the fighting strength their parents have and walk beside us along the track. Also, for them to connect with each other and know that they are not alone in what they are going through at home from Mum asleep on the couch to Dad worrying, whispered conversations to multiple surgeries and hospital admissions, nights and days being cared for by grandparents or friends and not being able to promise that you will be ok.
For my daughter, she didn’t want to talk about it at school; she wanted to go there and not think about it. Her friends and the school were very supportive of that but this event is a chance to be amongst like-minded supporters.
Sam during Chemotherapy treatments
As a survivor, what advice would you give to people?
Don’t be afraid to get screened. If cancer is there, it’s there and you will find the strength to deal with it. Free breast screening saved my life. My surgeon said had I left it for six months it would have spread and likely been terminal. Through early detection and treatment I’m here with a better prognosis.
How has your diagnosis changed your outlook?
As a former control freak and impatient perfectionist, I’ve finally learnt the hard way that you can’t control everything, no matter how hard you try or want to. I’ve learnt patience and to slow down. Healing takes time and you can’t rush to get through each stage of treatment as your body won’t allow it. The journey is just as important as the destination. Prior to cancer, I read many books and failed to implement the art of not sweating the small stuff – now I finally get it! And isn’t life sweeter for all those lessons?
Relay for Life will be held at the College campus from 2:00pm on Saturday 27 October, a Cancer Council initiative that raises vital funds for research, while recognising and celebrating those who have overcome cancer or are undergoing treatment, as well as the memory of loved ones lost.
Members of the public are encouraged to get involved in the event and are also invited to donate to Coomera Anglican College’s Relay for Life teams here.