If movies like The King And I, Dirty Dancing, Footloose and Pulp Fiction have taught us anything, it’s that there’s nothing quite like dancing to bring two people together.
That was also the case when Elizabeth Todd met Jack, her husband-to-be.
In 1974, they both found themselves sitting at the singles table at a mutual friend’s wedding. “There was a couple of other single guys there, but he was the only one who could dance properly, so it was a done deal,” Elizabeth laughed.
A month later, Elizabeth took Jack to a friend’s engagement party and introduced him to all her friends – and that, as they say, was that.
Their shared love of dancing continued to bring them together throughout their marriage, but it was Jack’s talent for art that still has a very special place in Elizabeth’s heart.
“I have the very first painting he did for me in 1975 up on the wall – I’ll never let go of it,” Elizabeth said.
In 2005, Jack was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Thankfully, it had not spread to his other organs, and was able to be removed with surgery.
In 2009, they discovered that the cancer had come back and was in Jack’s liver. Thanks to advances in cancer treatment, Jack’s prognosis was far better than it would have been in 2005.
“The surgeon told him that if he’d come to him two years ago, he would have been sent home because there would be been nothing that he could do,” Elizabeth said.
“In that four-year span between being first operated on and then finding it in the liver, research had found that they could operate on the liver, and that gave him a pretty good chance of survival.”
Elizabeth said she relied on Cancer Council’s information booklets to keep her informed during Jack’s treatment. “It’s not only the information for the patient, but the information for carers I found particularly helpful when Jack was diagnosed.
Sadly, Jack died in December 2018, 13 years after he was diagnosed with bowel cancer and just one month after attending the Daffodil Circle Gifts in Wills cruise.
In 2017, while caring for Jack, Elizabeth received her own diagnosis of thyroid cancer.
In a scan taken prior to her thyroid cancer surgery, Elizabeth’s surgeon noticed a shadow on her lung, which a lung specialist diagnosed as a separate, totally unrelated cancer.
“Radioactive iodine has completely cleared all signs of my thyroid cancer. The lung cancer however came back in my left lung in 2019 and a scan intended for lung radiation found a lesion in my spine. Radiation has reduced the spine lesion but a scan before follow-up with chemo found small lesions in my brain,” Elizabeth said.
I’m unable to make regular donations, so this is how I can support a cause I’m passionate about.
– Elizabeth Todd
After three months of chemotherapy, immunotherapy and targeted radiation therapy, Elizabeth said the results have been positive and the side-effects have been minimal. Her cancer diagnosis hasn’t stopped Elizabeth from participating in every 7 Bridges Walk since 2010. She even walked in October 2017, just one month after lung surgery.
“I can do one of two things – sit down, mope around and go downhill very quickly, or I can keep going to the gym and doing everything I was doing before,” Elizabeth said.
Elizabeth has left a gift in her will, to ensure Cancer Council is able to keep funding world-class cancer research and providing vital information services.
“Without research, Jack would have been gone a long time ago, and my own situation would be pretty bleak as well,” Elizabeth said.
“I’m unable to make regular donations, so this is how I can support a cause I’m passionate about. Everyone should put a little something in their will, because you can’t take it with you, so may as well put it to good use!”