How We Got Here
I never thought after starting My Pal Al, that I’d have to consider introducing myself. But as our message has gotten further, our support has grown to so many amazing people who I haven’t yet met. So, in saying this I have decided to walk you all through who I am, my cancer story and how My Pal Al came to be.
My name is Annie and I grew up in the small town of Trangie in Central West New South Wales. I was lucky enough to grow up in a big family with my Mum, Dad, big sister and 3 little brothers. At age 4, my little brother Tom passed away as the result of an accident, leaving us only with 15 months of his memory. At 4 years old I wasn’t really capable of understanding that he was gone forever, it never made sense. This prolonged my grief and it is now still something that I am challenged with daily. I am however lucky enough to have an incredibly close family who have supported me every step of the way, every time I fell there was someone there to pick me back up.
I grew up living only 50 meters from my Grandma and Pop’s (Mum’s Parents) back door and ‘just down the road’ (also known as the town over) from my Grandma, “Wigs” (Dad’s Mum). I never had the chance to meet Granddad (Dad’s Dad), as he passed away from bowel cancer only a year before I was born. This was the start of my cancer story. I am so blessed to be surrounded by the love my grandparents have for me and I am grateful every day that I have them by my side.
I was fortunate enough to grow up on our family farm, leaving endless adventures for my siblings and myself. Whether it was building cubbies, playing in the mud, playing school teachers or starting our own businesses (consisting of multiple cafes), I was constantly surrounded by love and support of my extended family and friends.
I attended the local Catholic School for my Primary years, before heading to Boarding School in both Bathurst (Years 7 & 8) and Sydney (Years 9 – 12). Moving from Trangie to Bathurst and then to Sydney, allowed me to create so many amazing friendships which I truly cherish.
After finishing Year 12 in 2017, I moved to North West Queensland to begin Governessing on a Cattle Station North of Cloncurry. Not only did I move closer to family that I didn’t see often, but I was lucky enough to work for a family that I have now become a part of. I have just returned for my second year working as a Governess at the same station.
As mentioned previously, my cancer story began the year before I was born (1998) when my Granddad lost his battle with Bowel cancer. In the years following his passing, his wife, Wigs, fought her own cancer battles, including Breast cancer and most recently Lung cancer. Mums parents too have fought and are fighting their own cancer battles, with Pop beating Prostate cancer in 2015. And Grandma currently fighting Advanced Bowel cancer. However, My Pal Al became my reality when I lost my dad to Lung cancer.
In 2017, Dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer and after a 12 month battle he found peace. This was the beginning of My Pal Al. I created My Pal Al as I was given the opportunity to share my story and inspire others to start a conversation, to encourage and share a message of cancer prevention and cure. I created My Pal Al as a symbol of hope for all who have been impacted by cancer.
Dad always encouraged me to take any opportunity given and make the most of the possibilities, and creativity is something that he always encouraged amongst those he mentored. Dad gave me the foundation and motivation to make a difference.
Over the next few weeks I am going to be sharing my cancer journey, from the day I found out dad had cancer, to the day we lost him. I began writing my story as I experienced it. I am not one to open up and talk about my experiences and how they have made me feel, but I find this fundamental in the foundations of My Pal Al.
So, bear with me as I attempt to recall how we got here.