By Cam Lucadou-Wells
With just one blister on her foot and departed loved ones in mind, walker Denise Lyons crossed the line arm in arm with brother Steve.
Ms Lyons had trekked 32 kilometres from her childhood home in Nar Nar Goon to Hampton Park on 9 September, just six years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She walked with the well-wishes and cheers of family and friends and in memory of her late sister Anne on the 15th anniversary of her death.
Along the way, she has raised more than $3500 for research into the ‘forgotten cancers’.
These cancers are the rare strains that receive little publicity, little research funding and five-year survival rates as low as seven per cent.
Both Anne and Ms Lyons’s father have succumbed to ‘forgotten cancers’.
Ms Lyons, now an avid walker, says she didn’t feel the pinch until she was just three kilometres from the finishing line.
Her brother Steve who flanked her for the whole journey was in more acute agony by the end, she said.
Along the way, they had a chance to catch up on life, talk about their kids and their journeys.
Meanwhile walkers from her keen support crew, including other cancer survivors, kept her company on various stages.
Her nieces and nephews spruiked the cause to strangers along the journey, raising $200 on the day. Childhood friends from Nar Nar Goon, where Ms Lyons’s parents ran a bakery, reminisced.
‘It was a really good energy. People were really buzzing and ready to take it up.
“It couldn’t have gone better.”
She says we need to hear more of the good stories about cancer.
“We hear all about the horrible stories, the troubles with chemo, the unfortunate deaths, how fast some people pass – but we don’t hear much about the good outcomes.
“People like me have been through it. I wouldn’t imagine I’d be doing a 32-kilometre walk in a day.”
Being open about her own illness opened up conversations with work colleagues at Dandenong Hospital, she said.
“Not every cancer story is the absolute worst thing.”
After the walk, inspired supporters were pressing to join in a repeat event next year.
Ms Lyons said she would “absolutely” do the walk again.
“Anything to find a cure for cancer.”
To donate to the cause, go to myownway2017.everydayhero.com/au/annie-s-way