Taking a deep breath, I looked at my daughter’s oncologist, Associate Professor Guy Toner. “I’d like to volunteer” I announced. “I want something to focus on”.
Four months earlier, I’d lost my 19-year-old daughter, Bec, to kidney cancer. For five years she’d battled the disease with a smile on her face. No matter how tough it got, she’d always stayed positive.
Surrounded by a close group of friends, Bec managed to still enjoy a few teenage rites of passage, like her year 12 formal.
She event went to schoolies in Surfers Paradise, although her dad, Tony and I had to stay nearby so we could help with pain management at night.
When she passed away, we were devastated, as were our sons, Matt, 21 and Tom, 16.
Bec Jago, forever 19
But even in the midst of our grief, we knew we wanted to use the experience to make change.
So, I approached Guy about volunteering for the ANZUP, where he worked as Deputy Chair.
He suggested a position on their consumer advisory panel. Like me, everyone on the panel had personal experience with what ANZUP called “below the belt” cancers. We used our consumer perspective to give opinions and advice on upcoming trials. Getting to help people just like my family was the most amazing experience.
Over the years, ANZUP grew and now, 10 years later, we’re also raising hundreds of thousands of dollars through the Move Your Way challenge. For the second year in a row, Tony and I took part.
Over a month, with the help of 20 friends and family members, we walked a combined 1100km under the team name Bec’s Troops and raised nearly $14,000.
Losing our daughter at such a young age was tragic but I’m determined to do my bit in making the world a better place. You only get one chance at life.
Belinda and Bec Jago
Our thanks to Belinda and her family for sharing their story with ANZUP and Below the Belt.
This article first appeared in Take 5 magazine, July 2021.