David’s A father’s heartache and advocacy in the face of cancer

Cancer Council NSW

In 2015, David’s life took an unexpected turn when his daughter Sheree was diagnosed with melanoma on her tongue.

David says, “life was pretty rosy” – Sheree and her husband had three children between the ages of three and seven, “and they were just like any other family.”

However, the arrival of Sheree’s diagnosis turned everything upside down as their priorities shifted to navigating the cancer experience.

“Sheree passed away in April 2017”, says David.

David’s connection to cancer

When Sheree’s melanoma was surgically removed, David says “we thought that was that”, but shortly after, Sheree started to complain about a tooth ache, so she went to the dentist.

David remembers, “there was nothing wrong with her teeth, so her dentist referred her back to her oncologist.”

The oncologist diagnosed Sheree with neck cancer.

Reflecting on the moment they heard Sheree’s diagnosis, David recalls, “we were just hoping it wouldn’t develop into a terminally ill situation.”

Image of David's daughter Sheree

“We always thought – I always hoped – it would be a good outcome,” says David, but Sheree’s condition continued to deteriorate, eventually leading to her dying in April 2017.

Inspired by the legacy of his daughter

Later in 2017, David saw an opportunity to honour Sheree’s memory while also making a positive impact for those affected by cancer.

For 7 Bridges Walk, David put together a team and together they raised a massive $20k for cancer research and were the highest fundraisers for that year.

“Giving back like that helped me though the grieving process”, says David.

David was inspired, saying, “that gave me an idea. Why can’t I organise something like this in the Wollongong area, to do something for cancer.”

With that, ‘Walk for Sheree‘ was launched – not just in memory of Sheree, but also “for anyone that has someone they know going through cancer, someone close to them” says David.

“The first Walk for Sheree raised $8,500, and we had more than 500 walkers”, he recalls.

Despite the challenges, the Walk for Sheree has continued to grow, bringing together people from all walks of life to support each other and remember loved ones.

Giving back to help others going through cancer treatment

In 2018, David went even further to support those affected by cancer by volunteering as a Transport to Treatment driver for Cancer Council NSW.

Being retired, David often feels “if there’s any way, I can help people affected by cancer, I’ll do it.”

Through his volunteer work, David strives to make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer.

In David’s words, “it’s just about striking conversation because I know they’re going through a difficult time. To take their mind away from the cancer.”

While David says he can’t relate to the experience of cancer treatment, he does recognise the impact that cancer can have on loved ones, saying, “a lot of people have been touched by cancer, in some shape or form.”

With that, David says, “I encourage anyone to support Cancer Council in research, prevention or support whether that’s by donating funds or donating their time.”

We thank David, and people like him, because together, with your support, it’s all of us against cancer.

If you, or anyone you know has any questions about cancer and our cancer support services, visit our support page

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