Six years after Brittney Anning fended off deadly melanoma, she’s now fighting 14 new tumours in her body, all of which are in her bones.
Brittney was diagnosed with Stage III melanoma in her lymph nodes a few months after her 30th birthday last year which quickly progressed to Stage IV within eight weeks.
As she puts up a fierce battle, Brittney goes to art therapy classes, massage and mindfulness sessions at Bloomhill which she says has helped ground her.
Bloomhill Cancer Care has been helping people living with cancer for 23 years and this year aims to support to more people than ever.
As Bloomhill enters its annual Be There for Bloomhill fundraising drive this month, Brittney is sharing her story to help raise awareness of the difference its services make to people’s cancer journeys.
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Brittney was only 24 when she was first diagnosed with melanoma which she had removed and had been in the clear for six years.
“Growing up on the water, I was always outside, on jet skis and boats or out riding my horse,” she said.
“I guess I got a bit too sunburnt on the same spot. Sun baking in solarium beds just to get a tan, didn’t help either.
“When I was 24, I noticed this black-looking mole on my collar bone. I hadn’t seen my sister in a while, and when we next caught up she said, ‘oh my God, what the h*ll is that?’ and pointed straight to it.
“It made me realise this black thing really needed to be checked out. It was a melanoma. I had it removed and was in the clear until six years later, I felt a lump under my armpit.”
Brittney now has 14 tumours in her body, some are pressing on nerves and causing significant pain.
With a zest for life only paralleled by her ‘fur kids’ — two malamutes and horse Garcia — Brittney is facing the illness head on.
“My fiancée Shane, my high school sweetheart and partner for 16 years, has supported me unconditionally through the last 14 months, putting his own emotions and feelings aside,” she said.
“When I’m really unwell he stays home and watches movies with me. We’ve devised a system for when to call an ambulance or drive to the Emergency Department, if the pain gets too bad. I guess he’s officially become my slave … ha ha.
“He now has to do most of the housework and has scaled back his two businesses. I’m so grateful to him, and really looking forward to marrying him finally later this year after 14 years of engagement.
“Cancer is something nobody wants to talk about, but it’s so important we do.”
Bloomhill Clinical Services Manager Trish Wilson said the charity had an exciting year planned, but needed vital funds to continue its individualised support for those touched by cancer.
“With $6000 we could support 100 new clients with a recent diagnosis to access wellbeing packages,” Ms Wilson said.
“This would enable oncology nurse and exercise physiologist assessment and appointments, two oncology massages or reflexology treatments, a 10-pass to group activities (e.g. Pilates, yoga and exercise circuit).”
Research shows exercise during cancer treatment can help alleviate treatment side effects, enable clients to finish cancer treatment, and assist with rehabilitation post-treatment.
“We want to expand our exercise resources here at Bloomhill,” Ms Wilson said.
“With $27,500, we could offer 500 exercise physiology sessions. With $46,350 we could provide 1500 sessions gym and Pilates sessions.
“With $54,000, we could provide 900 free counselling sessions to individuals or families.
Every dollar raised will go towards supporting people living with cancer.
“We know the benefits are huge, and I really urge the community to help raise funds for us, and support our beautiful clients.”
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Chair Michael Wise said he was “thrilled” at the generosity of community groups including Mooloolaba Bowls Club, who are digging deep to support the charity’s important work.
The club dedicated its Annual May Day Pairs event to the memory of Sarah Stehr, a former Ladies President of the Club.
The event also recognised cancer support with the major raffle of the day being donated to
Bloomhill and together with an additional donation from the Club Board, Bloomhill was supported by $ 815.
“We know the club’s members share very personal stories with cancer, and appreciate the work Bloomhill is doing. We are sincerely grateful for your support,” Mr Wise said.
While donations are not allocated to specific areas of support, $815 is what we need to provide 20 individual free qualified personal counselling sessions to clients.
Find out more about Bloomhill and how to join us in June visit www.bloomhill.com.au or phone 5445 5794.