We were going to bring you an interview with Vanessa Wyder, but decided instead to run this eloquent piece by Adam Shand that recently appeared in The Australian.
After surviving two episodes of cancer in her twenties, Vanessa Wyder had known fear before. But what she felt in Noosa Heads last September was on a different plane altogether. Ten months into a year-long trip around Australia to raise money for cancer research, she realised her illness had returned. The lump she found in her neck revived dreaded memories of chemotherapy, radiation and a stem cell transplant, not to mention the emotional toll on family and friends of her Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis.
Wyder’s ‘Cruisin’ 4 a Cure’ campaign had been an uplifting, liberating journey; a 38,000 km odyssey in a donated Jayco motorhome. She made more than 100 public speaking engagements and raised $86,000 for cancer and immunology research. After being sick for so long it had been the start of something new, but that moment in Noosa seemed like the beginning of the end of her.
The 29-year-old Melburnian felt like giving up, but she still had 2500 km ahead to reach her destination, Tasmania. Putting herself “out there” and continuing the journey was the best way of dealing with the fear. Cancer Council of Victoria chief executive Todd Harper said the contribution of private fundraisers such as Ms Wyder had been vital in saving lives.
“In the late 1990s, 50 per cent of sufferers did not live more than five years after the diagnosis,” Mr Harper said. That survival rate has now increased to two-thirds. “The role of people like Vanessa, who have worked selflessly for others while navigating their own cancer journey, is inspiring to us working in this field.”
Ms Wyder spent her life savings on the trip and every cent raised went to the Cancer Council. Now she’s back home in Melbourne, broke and needing her own expensive treatment. She fears that more chemo and radiation would overwhelm her, so has opted for alternative therapies that boost her immune system. She’s planning a trip to Mexico’s Gerson Institute, which has pioneered a treatment that relies on the bodies ability to heal itself through an organic vegetarian diet, fruit juices, coffee enemas and natural supplements. Three weeks in Mexico will cost up to $18,000. She’s not asking for charity, but will of course accept any assistance offered.
“I’m not wasting time becoming obsessed with the what-ifs and why-mes; I have learnt that everything happens for a reason,” she says.
Rather than seeing her challenge as the typical “cancer battle”, she focuses on gratitude for the blessings in her life to get her through. The terrible fear that shrank her heart and soul is gone, replaced with a sense of well-being and confidence, whatever the outcome she faces.
The motorhome is gone, but Cruisin 4 a Cure continues. She went to the letterbox yesterday and found an envelope with a 20 cent coin enclosed from a child. The postage stamp would have cost more than the donation, but the feeling of elation was priceless, she said.
It would be insulting and trite to simply say we wish Vanessa well. You can find out more about her and make a donation at her website http://www.cruisin4acure.org.au and follow her on Facebook ( embed link in Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cruisin-4-a-Cure/254960351204145). We’ll be following Vanessa’s story and bring you updates in future issues.
For the full article download Issue 21 of iMotorhome eMagazine by clicking on the link below.