The Faces of The Mother’s Day Classic

MDCLogoMother’s Day Classic is an annual fun run/walk which is a popular, national community event that donates its fundraising to Breast Cancer research.

There are facts and figures that have been shared about the number of years the Mother’s Day Classic has been running (this is the 18th); the approximate number of women estimated to be diagnosed daily with breast cancer (40 – EACH day) and the amount of money the MDC has raised for breast cancer research since it began in 1998 ($24.3 million). But behind all the statistics are the faces of the Mother’s Day Classic – the real women, families and friends dealing with this disease.

“Now in my third year of organising the Ballina Mother’s Day Classic event, I have had the absolute privilege to meet some remarkable people … each with their own story; their own journey,” said Jo Parker.

Just recently I formed a lovely email relationship with Meg* (one of our participants) who shared her story with me. What was so poignant of Meg’s journey was that she took time out to pen her story whilst undergoing chemotherapy and is just one example of the amazing strength, faith and determination demonstrated by so many people. Meg now lives in Brisbane but is a born and bred Ballina girl who has supported our local Mother’s Day Classic event since it began.

Another face of the Mother’s Day Classic is Jodie who owns a successful beauty salon in Lismore. Diagnosed at just 40 years of age, two years down the track she is currently facing her third round of treatment. She is a single mum with teenaged children and by all accounts, from those that know her well, is an inspiration to many with her “go get ‘em” attitude. Jodie will be supported on the day by a large participating contingent known as “Jodie’s Inspiration” and has so kindly agreed to be our guest speaker on Sunday.

Details for the Ballina Mother’s Day Classic are:-
Date: Sunday 10 May
Time: Registrations from 8:00am
Guest speaker @8:45am
Runners / walkers commence at 9:00am
Venue: Missingham Park Amphitheatre Kingsford Smith Drive, Ballina


Meg Welchman (nee Senior) with Ivy


I grew up in Ballina, going to Southern Cross Primary in the 1980s and afterwards to Ballina High. My mum and brother still live in our family home so we visit all the time and love the beaches. My husband, Simon, and I ran our first Mother’s Day Classic in 2012 in Brisbane which was exhilarating but since then we have run every year in Ballina. You cannot beat running along North Wall looking out at where the river meets the ocean. It is breathtaking every time.

I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at 37 years just after the birth of my second child. I was breastfeeding and thought the lumps I could feel was mastitis. Because I had just had a baby I didn’t feel “unwell”, just very tired, which is par for the course when you have a newborn and a toddler. Unfortunately, the cancer was a very fast growing and aggressive type, so it had already spread through my lymph nodes and into my liver at diagnosis. My family and I were thrown into a whole terrifying new world of uncertainty and fear. Both my Oncologist and Surgeon navigated me through this scary path and after six initial months of chemotherapy I had a mastectomy and finally went into remission. Since then I continue to have targeted therapy (Herceptin and Perjeta) every three weeks at the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane and am supported through the Wesley Choices Program with their art therapy, massage and exercise classes. The support is a big part of how I am still here five years on post diagnosis.

It is important to me that women understand that cancer can present whilst breastfeeding, which was something that had never occurred to me. It also can present in much younger women than previously thought and women (and men) with no family history of the illness. In fact, in my family I was the only one to have breast cancer, until my mum was also diagnosed with it in 2012, a devastating blow to us all. Thankfully she is now in full remission.
Most people who are faced with the shocking diagnosis of cancer can at least find some reassurance in the fact that they “got it early, before it had spread”. I didn’t have that option. I am however one of the lucky ones. I had found true love and happiness with my husband Simon and we were able to have children before this happened. In every way the love that we share as a family and for our kids, Reuben (seven) and Ivy (five years) has been the reason for doing whatever it takes to continue on.
Since my first diagnosis I have had two further recurrences of cancer, in 2013 and this year in January. I am half way through chemotherapy which I am tolerating well and am fit to run (and walk!) in the Mother’s Day Classic. The key to beating cancer is not in fighting or battling as it is sometimes portrayed, the key is in connection, coming together, creating joy and hope and love. I love being part of the Mother’s Day Classic for that feeling.

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