The Camden and Districts Relay for Life is a chance for locals to come together and support each other in the face of tragedy.
Camden’s Leanne Franzman is just one of this year’s participants who has overcome the odds.
Her father Norm died of bowel cancer when she was just 16 years old.
“It was horrific,” she said.
“Dad was 38 when he was diagnosed. My parents tried to keep as much hope as they could.
“We were living in Campbelltown and Dad had to travel to North Shore Hospital for his treatment. It was horrendous – he was so, so sick all the time.”
Following his diagnosis, Norm was given just 18 months to live – he managed to hold on for four years.
When Mrs Franzman received her own bowel cancer diagnosis at 42 she immediately feared the worst.
“I thought it was the end,” she said.
“Luckily, I had a brilliant surgeon and he operated immediately.”
Unfortunately the cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes.
“I underwent six months of chemotherapy after which, thankfully, I was given the all clear,” she said.
A couple of years after her own cancer experience, Leanne’s brother was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma
Following treatment, he too was given the all clear.
Then in February 2014, Mrs Franzman’s husband, also named Norm was told he had mesothelioma (a tissue cancer).
“He started treatment and battled hard for five and a half months, but there wasn’t much they could do,” she said.
“Norm had been an apprentice carpenter and worked as a builder for nine years. Mesothelioma can stay dormant for a long time, he was 52 when he died.”
Despite so many tragedies in her life, Mrs Franzman has stayed remarkably upbeat.
After her own cancer diagnosis, she signed up to participate in the first Camden and Districts Relay For Life.
“We’re a big team, made up of a lot of family and friends, and we do a lot of fundraising,” she said.
“Relay is such a good community event. You see so much hope.
“To see people still clearly in treatment walking around the track, trying to make a difference – it’s so uplifting.”
This year Camden and Districts Relay For Life will celebrate its 10th anniversary on September 23 and 24.
Chairperson Chris Haywood said they had some great entertainment and activities planned for the event.
“We will have live stage entertainment, a silent disco, movies on the big screen all night, a dog walk on the Sunday morning, inflatables and jumping castles,” he said.
“It will be a great event.
“We will be raising money, supporting one another, bringing everyone together and having fun.”
Teams and volunteers are encouraged to sign up for the 2017 Camden and Districts Relay For Life by visiting www.relayforlife.org.au/camden.