• Annie Kennedy

Now Were Here

Updated: Jul 18, 2019

Dad’s cancer battle wasn’t the first my family had to face. I always hoped that Dad’s battle would be the last, but cancer has a way and has made it back to my family, which is why I created ‘My Pal Al’.

When I was first playing around with the idea of My Pal Al, I was very reluctant to tell people about it. I had initially mentioned it briefly to Belle while in Kmart shopping, I figured I could just drop the idea and that would be the end of it. But she didn’t let me forget that I had mentioned the idea to her. After she had me tell Billy and Molly the idea that night, I soon realised that it wasn’t just going to be an idea for much longer. Eventually, Mum got wind of my idea and after I sent her my ‘plan’ she replied with this message:

“Annie – that is amazing. I have lots of tears though. My pride in you kids grows everyday & you all keeping ‘blowing my mind’ with your strength and resilience. I know dad would be so chuffed by this & immensely proud. I love that you have included all cancers, not just a single cancer. I always felt that many cancers were ‘ignored’, whilst so many seem to be in the spotlight. Sometimes when we sat in oncology I got a little bitter at those with the cancers where more funding/ charity seemed to be directed, as they got allocated specific nurses etc.. whilst dad & I had to sit there & muddle our way through ourselves. All cancer sufferers, survivors & carers deserve the same amount of care & treatment. Love you to bits. Heading to do cattle now & hope the dust doesn’t stick to my tears xxx”

This was the beginning to the next chapter of Al’s Ride.

After announcing my plans on November 1st 2018, the start of Lung Cancer Awareness Month, I being creating, exploring and brainstorming how I was about to make my mission a reality.

With the constant encouragement and motivation from Belle, things finally started to take shape. Belle and I spent the first week of December in Mount Isa for school events, however, every other second that we weren’t looking after our students, we were planning and brainstorming where to go next.

Belle and I returned home for the school holidays and set up our ‘My Pal Al Head Quarters’ for the next 2 months. It was action stations, with lots of excitement (and stress) and we lead up to our launch day.

My Pal Al officially launched on January 1st 2019. And it was crazy! After selling 219 keyrings in just one week, we managed to raise over $1000.

So many hours of slave labour (put in by Belle and Mum) and many tears, allowed My Pal Al to become a reality, and I am so overwhelmed by the support received, from Trangie to Broome, Kununurra to Rose Bay and everywhere in between.

But I owe so much of how we got here to my sister, Belle and Mum, Kate. Without their love and patience My Pal Al wouldn’t be my reality, only my dream.

After the first month of My Pal Al being in business, it became very evident that I was no longer just making keyrings with a little bit of hope, but also making a difference, which was really quite scary.

After many discussions with family and friends, I decided to take My Pal Al to the next step, and not only make and sell keyrings but to include the sales of caps, stubby coolers and stickers. This has allowed our message to grow and reach so many more people.

While going between making keyrings, organising merchandise and working a full-time job, I decided it was important that people knew the reason My Pal Al was built and had a bit more of an insight into my story. I then started editing this blog. As mentioned in pervious posts, I began writing about these turned posts as I went through Dad’s battle with him. I decided that it was important that everyone knew why I had created My Pal Al.

While I have you all here I wanted to explain more about what I am wanting to achieve from My Pal Al. I know I can’t cure cancer and I would love to think that I could, but that’s not what my goal is (yet). But what I can do is start a conversation of cancer prevention and cure. I can give a little bit of hope to those who are fighting their own cancer battle. By creating My Pal Al, I have provided an opportunity for those who have faced a cancer battle to open up about their experiences, to let others know that they aren’t alone in their battle and grief and to try and find a small bit of hope.

I have been so privileged to be supported by some many amazing people throughout my journey so far. It’s the little messages I receive and stories & conversations I hear that make everything worth it. While I may be exhausted from starting conversations, I love what I’m doing and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to spread a little bit of hope.

Annie xx

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