• Annie Kennedy

A Quick Update

March 30th, 2021

It’s been a while since I sat down to write about this rollercoaster, and I guess that’s because it hasn’t slowed down yet. When I first started My Pal Al, I hoped that Dad’s story would be my only one, but as time has gone on since he passed, I have seen too many other beautiful people facing their own battles.

Late last year, Aunty Gabe (Dad’s sister-in-law) found peace after a courageous battle with cancer. Surrounded by her amazing family, she knew that her fight was coming to an end. Unfortunately, due to the current global situation, we could not attend her service in Cloncurry. Instead, we gathered in Canowindra with family and friends in New South Wales and shared stories and memories of the incredible lady she was.

And to think that would be my only cancer story since Dad would be nice, but I am currently sitting in my room in Armidale waiting for the call that Grandma has passed. Six months after Dad passed, Grandma was diagnosed with bowel cancer. After a courageous fight, Grandma’s battle is very near the end.

I am so proud of Mum, Aunty Paula, Aunty Carm and Pop, who, with their families behind them, have spent the past 23 days staying overnight in the hospital with Grandma. To say that they are exhausted would be an understatement. But the fact that they keep going each day, juggling their own lives whilst continuing to stay strong for each other is truly inspiring.

I guess these recent events have made me realise how vital My Pal Al's conversation is. Whilst a conversation isn’t going to cure cancer, it can prevent it. And that’s what I want to achieve. I want just one person to go for a check-up with the GP, book in for a skin check, blood tests, scans and mammogram, and just double-check. There is no harm in knowing that you are ok.

In 2019, Mum spoke on my behalf at The Scots School in Sydney, and I want to share with you part of her speech that plays on my mind most days:

In my experience with rural people and particularly farmers, they aren’t that great at looking after their own health. Despite what the animal activists would have us believe, most farmers will nearly always put the health and the wellbeing of their stock well above their own health. They are religious at ensuring their machinery is adequately maintained & regularly serviced, but don’t take the time to have regular medical check-ups themselves.”

I know many of you reading this would be nodding your heads to this statement. I believe that it’s time we step up and make this conversation a priority. Whether you’re sitting at dinner with your family, down the paddock with your partner or at the pub with your mates, there is no wrong time to ask. Take a friend, make an appointment together, hold each other accountable. It could be the conversation that saves you from losing someone too soon.

So, while I find my feet and get back to helping you create conversations, I challenge to find a friend or four and ask them, “When was your last check-up?” and if they say they “don’t remember” or “don’t need to, I feel fine” ask them what the harm is in booking a quick appointment just to be sure. I can inspire the conversation, but I need you to continue it.

I can’t wait to share what we have coming with you, and I love hearing your ideas. So, keep the conversations going, and I’ll see you soon!

- Annie xx

April 19th, 2021

Well, how quickly my cancer story changed. A couple of hours after I had sent the above update to Mum and Belle, I received the phone call I had been preparing myself for. Grandma’s battle came to an end at 12:26 pm on March 31st, 2021. After a long few weeks of waiting for the call and trying to prepare myself, the conversation with mum was still a shock and blur.

We laid grandma to rest on April 7th, alongside her son, grandson and son-in-law. We were so blessed to be surrounded by so many beautiful people and are truly grateful for all of the support received. As Grandma requested, we danced on tables long into the night and celebrated the remarkable woman she was.

And now, after a busy few days of uni, I’ve begun placing more orders to wholesalers with some super exciting things coming your way. I’m excited to see where the rest of this year is going to take us and the many amazing conversations we are going to start.

But, to bring a smile to the past crazy few weeks, we were lucky enough to again sponsor the Al Kennedy Memorial Encouragement Draft at the Trangie Campdraft over the weekend of the 10th. On top of starting many conversations at the bar, the Trangie Campdraft Committee and Jackpot Draft riders donated $400 to My Pal Al. What an amazing community to be supported by.

And as always, we love hearing from you guys… so don’t forget to send us pictures of your little bits of hope and anything you think we could do to help you start more conversations.

I’ll be talking to you all again soon, with some exciting news.

- Annie xx

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