Cancer Council volunteers Margaret and Linda Bunting
For Cancer Council volunteer Linda Bunting this year’s Daffodil Day theme, For Someone I Know has a special meaning. On Friday 26 August Linda will be dedicating a daffodil to her biggest inspiration, her mother in law Margaret, who volunteered for Cancer Council NSW for 24 years.
Margaret was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1990 and had a mastectomy and removal of all her lymph nodes. She would have been 20 years cancer free, but then secondary cancer was found in her lungs.
She had a lung removed in early 2010 and started chemotherapy. Linda says, “Although she did slow down a little, she refused to see this as a setback. Margaret continued her volunteering work and never missed a year. She confronted the illness with her usual zest and positive attitude, never once complaining. The dignity and determination she showed during her illness is an inspiration to us all.”
Unfortunately, Margaret passed away in April 2015. She was a strong woman who volunteered for Cancer Council for 24 years, originally starting by selling daffodils late on Thursday nights whilst working full time, counselling those who had just had mastectomies, participating in Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, Relay for Life, Daffodil Day and Pink Ribbon Day. In all those years, Margaret raised over $150,000 for Cancer Council NSW.
Linda celebrates 10 years of volunteering
After getting involved with her mother in law, this will be Linda’s 10th year volunteering on Daffodil Day.
“I will be forever grateful to Margaret – she was the most inspiring, uplifting and unselfish person I have ever met. On my very first year of joining her for Daffodil Day, a donor came up to me and told me her story. Her five-year old grandson had died from cancer. It was heartbreaking, we cried together and when she left, I continued crying – my son was five years old at the time, and it was completely unimaginable to me. Margaret consoled me, and sent me home. I was of no use after that. When it was time for Pink Ribbon Day, I was back. I had to toughen up, be there for people. I am a good listener, and very compassionate. Sometimes people just want someone to talk to, someone to console them. I have learnt from one of the best. I still occasionally shed tears but I was never sent home again,” said Linda.
A personal experience with cancer
“In 2013, I went through my own cancer journey. I visited my doctor to have my two-yearly pap smear, and in the course of that visit, also did a mammogram, and later an ultrasound and a biopsy. Throughout these examinations, I wasn’t worried at all at first – until a couple days later, when the doctor confirmed that I had breast cancer. On a scale of low-medium-high, I was medium to high.
I had my mastectomy in January 2014, the 12th anniversary of my mother’s death from a heart attack. Her motto was “with every death there is a life” and I was going to take back my life that day. The operation was text book – there was no cancer in my lymph nodes, and I was declared cancer free. No radiotherapy needed!
Once I was cleared of cancer, I booked a 4 week holiday for my family and myself to America. It was something we were going to do in a few years, but realised that life is too short. So in April 2014, off we went. It was a holiday of a lifetime. The kiddies loved it, and so did we.
In November 2014, I was due to have my yearly mammogram on my left breast. Leading up to my appointment, I was terrified. I couldn’t eat, sleep, and I was anxious and short tempered with my family. Everything was fine, but I realised I could not go through that again every year so I requested to have my left breast removed as well.”
In April 2015, Linda underwent a left breast mastectomy and a double trans flap breast reconstruction from her belly. Linda said “It was an 8 hour operation. I woke up with 6 drains and was in intensive care for 2 days and 4 more days in hospital. It was major, but the doctors told me it was all text book. It was a long recovery, but with help from family, I got through it with minimum discomfort.
My husband has been my rock through all of this – without him there is no way I could have had the operations, or had the time to be a volunteer. “
“This is my story. I am happy and live a full life. I am one of the lucky ones.”
Margaret loves volunteering and hopes to continue it for many years to come.
On Friday 26 August, 2016, 1000s of volunteers will give their time to sell Daffodil Day pins and flowers in locations across Australia.