A Border cancer survivor who drew strength from much-loved football identity, Karl Jacka’s battle with the disease has been able to give something back by speaking at a gathering of his sporting community.
Anna Hession was one of the first patients to be treated at the new Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre, alongside Jacka, in 2016.
She knew his family well, having previously met Jacka’s wife, Cristy, and their daughter, Lucy, while working as an occupational therapist in Rutherglen.
So when she was asked to speak at a fundraiser inspired by the late football coach, she jumped at the chance and addressed a crowd of about 80 ladies at a Rutherglen Cats Football Club high tea on Saturday.
“I can’t thank you enough for the fundraising you do (for the cancer centre) and in memory of Karl and the battle he put up, because I know that was a really hard journey for him,” she said.
“Seeing him at the cancer centre and seeing how he progressed was really very, very sad, but it certainly gave me so much strength to get through that (cancer) myself.”
Anna, of Yackandandah, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in June 2014 aged 47 years.
She had surgery in Melbourne and because of her young age, was considered a candidate for a rare clinical trial.
The Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre was the only place in the state to offer intraperitoneal chemotherapy, which feeds directly into the target area via catheter, outside of Melbourne.
“So I felt myself really fortunate because otherwise the alternative was going to Melbourne,” Anna said.
“I had three lots of chemo every two weeks, with one week free.
“The thought of having to travel to Melbourne from Yackandandah – my boys were 14 and 16 – was just really going to be so challenging for us.”
Anna finished her cancer treatment about 18 months ago and is now a community representative on the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre advisory committee for the Wellness Centre.
The high tea on the weekend was held as part of the Rutherglen Cats Cancer Awareness Round, which also included a charity auction and ball drop.
The event last year raised almost $100,000 for the Wellness Centre.