OPINION| World-class cancer care available in Macarthur

PAST FUN: John Therry High School students and (clockwise) three amigos from Aquafit, Sue McGarrity with Camden Paralympian Paul Nunnari, Diana’s Dawdlers, hospital staff, and Kirsten Little, who has joined the committee.

PAST FUN: John Therry High School students and (clockwise) three amigos from Aquafit, Sue McGarrity with Camden Paralympian Paul Nunnari, Diana’s Dawdlers, hospital staff, and Kirsten Little, who has joined the committee.

AS we get swamped by traffic jams, road rage, squished-up housing estates and more signs of city living every year, I reckon every bit of Macarthur’s old country town-style community spirit needs to be preserved, cherished and celebrated.

A bastion of this is the 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer.

Homemade, homegrown, and bursting with smiles and community pride, with no strings attached except that it helps local cancer sufferers.

So, I use this week’s column to simply urge you all across Macarthur – from Bargo to Glenfield and from Oakdale to Appin – to start preparing a team for this year’s walkathon at Leumeah on October 21 and 22, 2017.

This year is perhaps more important than ever because it will be the first 24 Hour Fight without our founder – the late, great Fred Borg – who died in December.

This year will also be a landmark because the Fight should hit $4 million raised for local cancer care since it was founded in 2005. If that sounds impressive, I ask you to think of it in these terms…

The Fight is not run by the government, an institution, or a major charity in some big city office with paid staff. It’s run by a handful of local volunteers and supported by the community, businesses sponsors and local doctors and nurses. About as grass roots as grass roots can get.

We had our 2017 campaign launch on Friday at the new Clintons Toyota facility at Gregory Hills, and I was once again reminded of the amazing spirit this creates.

The faces in the crowd were as diverse as local medical specialists such as Dr Di Adams, to civic leaders such as Wollondilly Mayor Judy Hannan (a great backer of good causes), local sporting greats such as Wests Tigers legend John Skandalis, and community helpers such as Bill Salter from Ingleburn Rotary. The list goes on.

Unlike the widespread Relays For Life (which raise money for the Cancer Council NSW), the 24 Hour Fight Against Cancer is 100 per cent homegrown, and keeps 100 per cent of its money here in Macarthur. In short, it gives our local hospitals world-class medical equipment, directly helps kids in need, and even provides transport for chemotherapy patients. So many added extras in fact, that a column this long couldn’t list them all. This year, we are celebrating the funding of a new ‘cooling cap’ system that reduces hair loss in chemo patients.

In an era where we read stories about some charities, where up to 40 cents in the dollar goes in administration, promotions, paid staff and glossy marketing, I love backing a charity  –  fueled by unpaid volunteers, relying on promotional support by the local media  – which ensures that every cent gets spent wisely.

Funds are shared between the Macarthur Cancer Therapy Centre, Oncology Ward and Paediatric Ambulatory Care Unit at Campbelltown Hospital and the Palliative Care Unit and Outreach service at Camden Hospital.

I also love the way this event has become so much more than a mere walkathon (and, you can do that however you want; some people walk for the full 24 hours, others walk for 24 minutes). It has become a major community celebration, with activities, food, entertainment and a sea of faces from all walks of life.  

So, please get your team together and join the fun. Details at 24hrfight.org.au

For large school teams wanting to get involved, feel free to email me via the address at the top of this page, and we can arrange for a visit and help you with the FAQs.

Let’s make 2017 a year that would have made Fred proud.

It will be our first year without our founder – the late, great Fred Borg.

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