When she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2020, Brisbane mum Jayne says it felt like a death sentence.
“I was only 38 and everyone was telling me it’ll be fine,” Jayne, who has three children aged four to 10, says.
“I was so scared, not just for myself but for my kids, too. If this is it, I thought, I know their dad is amazing and he’ll do his best, but sometimes you just need your mum.”
“I started grieving for the fact that I’ll never get to see my kids grow up. My son was three and I wondered if he’d ever remember me.”
There were other interesting learnings from the diagnosis, Jayne says. One was that she had “betrayed” her body by eating poorly and not exercising. Another was that she had wasted years in a job for which she had no passion.
“I’d been treading water for two years, always meaning to leave that job and find something better, something different, something with purpose. But I never did.”
Finding purpose in charity
Jayne went through five months of chemotherapy and responded very well. Then surgery was followed by six weeks of radiation therapy. The treatment has worked exceptionally well. “Touch wood,” she smiles. “It wasn’t a death sentence”.
But this didn’t solve all of the various life issues the cancer diagnosis had flagged up.
Jayne is now eating a lot better than she was and prioritises exercise. She has also made some decisions around her work. Most important though, was her search for greater purpose, and she discovered that in charity.
“One day I was thinking about purpose, and I was thinking about how I couldn’t just sit around the house until I went back to work in February,” she says. “Then I received an email from The Kids’ Cancer Project – I’d been buying their bears for a couple of years.”
“It mentioned something about a bear drive, and I knew a bear is not something everybody could afford. At the same time, I read an article about how research for kids’ cancers also leads to better treatments for adult cancers.”
Jayne logged on to Facebook and, for the first time, publicly announced her cancer battle. Previously she had remained fairly quiet about it, only telling those who needed to know.
She asked her friends not to send cards or flowers or even prayers, but instead to donate to her fundraising drive for The Kids’ Cancer Project bears, to be given to kids in hospital.
Read more: A toy bear drive for kids with cancer
“It’s got the double goodness of supporting cancer research and also providing happiness to a child who really needs it,” Jayne says.
Jayne’s original goal was $500, which would buy nine bears, and she would buy the tenth. In the first 24 to 48 hours, her generous family and friends had provided enough money to purchase 100 bears.
“Right now, we’ve got $6,905, and my new target is $8,250, which will buy 150 bears,” she says.
“The original idea was to donate them to kids in the Queensland Children’s Hospital, which we drive past occasionally. But there’s also an option on the website to send the bears to wherever they’re needed most. I figure with that number of bears, we can stock up a few regional hospitals where they don’t have visits from football players, etc.”
What does she hope might come out of her new, purposeful project? Jayne says she feels there will be positive outcomes on a number of levels.
Discover how to set up your own Toy Bear Drive
“First, I’m hoping it will raise the profile of The Kids’ Cancer Project,” she says. “Second, if we can give 150 kids and their families a reason to smile, that’s amazing. Finally, the money funds research that can make a real difference in contributing to better treatments and better outcomes. What could be better than that?”