19 April 2016

Canberrans rally for a good cause

| Steven Bailey
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Amanda and her family

A few days ago marked Amanda McDonnell’s one-year anniversary of being diagnosed with metastatic (advanced) breast cancer. She describes that day as “the worst day of my life”.

From that day forth, the lives of Amanda, her husband Sean, their two young children and their family and friends, changed forever.

Amanda has undergone aggressive chemotherapy and a mastectomy. She receives constant injections and medication to prevent the cancer from spreading any further than her bones, and her doctors have estimated her lifespan to be around two years from the publication of this article.

Yet in spite of the greatest of hardships nature can bestow upon a young family, it seems that Amanda’s story has inspired the greatest of humanity in her friends, family, and Canberrans alike.

One of Amanda’s friends, Nikki Randall, explains that upon hearing about Amanda’s prognosis, it was the feeling of helplessness that motivated her to do something helpful for her friend.

“It was a stark realisation that we could no longer offer any words of encouragement to make the situation better. We felt helpless. It was at this point that we started thinking about something tangible we could do to help Amanda and her family.”

Nikki, Nina Cannell (who has already raised $7,000 for Amanda through a charity bike ride), and Amanda’s “Army of Angels”, have rallied together to organise a trivia night to raise funds to assist with the financial burden that comes with such a terminal illness.

The Woden Hellenic Club has kindly donated a venue within the club for the trivia night to take place on 13 March.

Small businesses have donated thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts to be raffled off on the night, and although the trivia night is already completely booked out you can still contribute to this worthy cause by purchasing a raffle ticket or making a direct donation.

On the event’s Facebook page, Amanda’s Army of Angels have written, “By raising funds for this beautiful woman, we will be helping Amanda to experience as much as she possibly can with her lovely husband Sean and their two beautiful kids, and provide them with wonderful memories to grow with.”

On reflecting on her personal journey for this article, it is clear that Amanda is a beacon of humility and a source of courage and inspiration for the lives of many others.

“I think that community spirit is always around us and we saw how good Canberra is at this during the Canberra bushfires,” she said.

“What my friends have told me is that they have had the opportunity to meet amazing people and hear their own stories of courage which has inspired them and me.”

Amanda hopes the trivia night will remind Canberrans how great the spirit of a community can be in helping others’ in their time of need.

When I asked Nikki Randall what her hopes and aspirations were for Amanda and her family, she said: “I hope that Amanda and Sean can create experiences and memories so Thea and Hamish will remember the humble, compassionate, hilarious, warm, caring, friendly, and beautiful person their Mum is. I hope that Amanda feels and accepts the love that so many people have for her.”

Congratulations to all those involved, and good luck Amanda.

If you would like to purchase raffle tickets, make a direct donation or to see the small businesses that have donated to this cause, please follow the Facebook link provided or make direct contact via email: amanda.trivia@gmail.com

It would be great to see a corporate donation from a firm in Canberra.

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