Nat’s inventive way of giving back

 

Natalie Willacy was 32-years-old and planning her wedding when she noticed blood when she went to the toilet.

Given Nat's age and heath, doctors initially believed her symptoms were caused by haemorrhoids.

"No one seemed overly concerned by my symptoms at first but I was referred for a colonoscopy as a precaution. Tests showed I had stage two bowel cancer...I couldn't believe it," she said.

Nat and her fiancé Mike put their wedding plans on hold while she immediately underwent surgery and chemotherapy to treat the cancer.

"At the end of my treatment I had my first round of follow up tests and the specialists suspected a secondary cancer. This was very hard news for Mike and I to take on so we contacted the Cancer Council WA cancer nurses via the 13 11 20 phone line to ask for support," she said.

"Mike was feeling a bit overwhelmed with how to deal with our new situation so they talked him through options and ways they could support him to support me, and put us in contact with a psychologist who was able to see us immediately. It was exactly the support we needed at the time and our counselling sessions were very helpful.

"The Cancer Council WA information brochures and booklets I received at the time of diagnosis and throughout my treatment also enabled me to better understand the challenges I was facing and helped me make informed choices."

Five years on, Nat has the all clear, and she and Mike are now married and enjoying family life with their two-year-old daughter, May.

"I was going to have my eggs collected before I started chemotherapy but my doctors thought it best not to delay my treatment, so we didn't do it in the end," she said.

"I was worried we didn't have a back-up plan if I had trouble failing pregnant, but it happened naturally and easily, so we feel very blessed,"

"We just love time together as a family as May grows and discovers the world," she said.

Juggling family life with her career and managing her popular Instagram page, hello.ello.perth, Natalie is also a passionate fundraiser for us, determined to do her part to ensure others are able to access the same support she and her family found invaluable.

"I hosted my first Biggest Morning Tea not long after I was diagnosed with cancer. Experiencing cancer first-hand highlighted just how important research and support services are," she said.

"My first Biggest Morning Tea was at home but the following year I felt that a lot of people were busy with life, work, weddings, and babies, and didn't have the time to physically attend. I also have friends and family who live interstate or overseas," she said.

"I thought a way to ensure more friends and family could attend would be to hold a virtual Morning Tea. That way, people could join in wherever they were in the world by sharing a photo using the hashtag #imorningtea - all of a sudden everyone is in one place, enjoying their tea or coffee while raising funds for Cancer Council WA.

This year, 71 people donated to Natalie's virtual morning tea, raising $2,885 in donations.

"One of the best reasons to fundraise for Cancer Council is the feel-good feeling you get from doing the right thing and raising money for a really great charity.

"The difference Cancer Council can make in the lives of people going through cancer is huge, so as far as charities go, it's a really good one to make a difference."

 

 

This story was featured in our 2016 - 2017 Annual Review. To read more about our achievements over the past year and the inspiring people that have helped us along the way check out Annual Review here.


Found in:  News - 2017  | View all news