When the first feet passed over the purple threshold at Conolly Park to begin Wagga’s annual Relay for Life, Amanda Bramich thought of her mother.
As has become customary, the first lap in the Cancer Council’s yearly event is taken by the survivors and their carers. But after 43 years with her mother by her side, this year Ms Bramich walked without her.
Instead she was joined by 15 family members and close friends who wished to honour the legacy of Lorraine Albert, who died last October following a six month battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 64 years old.
“The diagnosis was devastating to hear, especially when they said that word, when they used ‘terminal’ right from the start,” said Ms Bramich.
“There was always hope though. I constantly held onto the hope that she would somehow beat it.”
Though she wore the white carer’s sash during her laps on October 13, Ms Bramich has personally known the touch of cancer. At age 16, she was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer.
Now, almost three decades later, she has defied the odds to have her own children. They joined her walk of solidarity for their grandmother, carrying the last photo of her before her chemotherapy.
“Her sister is here, myself her daughter, there’s grandchildren, great nieces and nephews, cousins and friends,” said Ms Bramich.
“This picture, we took it about two weeks before she started to lose all her hair from the therapy.”
Also walking for Lorraine’s legacy was cousin Judy Brooker. Now at age 64 – the same age Lorraine was when she died –, Ms Brooker feels the loss more astutely.
“She was not just my cousin, she was my best friend,” Ms Brooker said.
“I can’t even described how close we were, we did everything together. I miss her every single day, it’s so hard to explain that loss.”
Unfortunately, Ms Brooker shares a birthdate with the anniversary of her best friend’s passing.
“It was such a vicious way to go,” Ms Brooker said.
“I was going to go to the hospital to have some cake with her when I got the call, she had passed before I could get there.”
This was not the first time the family had walked in honour of their beloved Lorraine. Last year, when the relay was held in April, they completed the journey together.
“We brought mum down in the wheelchair to go around it a few times,” said Ms Bramich.
“She was so small by that stage she was in a kids’ wheelchair. It was very cold for her, we had her wrapped up in blankets, but she had an absolutely beautiful time.
“Unless you’ve been touched by it, you don’t know how painful it is to go through cancer.”