Valentine’s Day is typically a time of celebrating love in all its forms. But for others like Zoe, it’s a painful reminder of the impact of cancer.
Zoe lost her beloved grandfather to cancer on Valentine’s Day in 2014.
“I had just finished high school, and I was going to start my first year of uni,” she says. “It was supposed to be a really exciting time in my life—and instead, it was an utterly heart-breaking time.”
“It was my first experience with having someone really close to me die. My pop was one of my favourite people in the universe. It devastated me to watch him fade.”
Four years later, Zoe’s father passed away from pancreatic cancer.
The loss of her father and grandfather motivated Zoe to make a difference in their memory.
“After pop died, it really showed me what was important in life,” she said.
“I wanted to live when my dad and my pop couldn’t. I wanted to do things that would make them proud. And I wanted to help others going through their own challenges.”
It led Zoe to volunteer with Cancer Council. She was the media coordinator for the Eurobodalla Relay for Life for several years, and the marketing volunteer for the first-ever Stars of Eurobodalla: Dance for Cancer in 2016.
“I was drawn to the Cancer Council because a lot of the people involved have also been touched by cancer. There’s an unspoken understanding of how horrible it is. Doing Relay for Life, in particular, was always so emotional and so rewarding, especially to see the people that survived.”
“I knew helping the Cancer Council would make pop proud, and dad too. It makes you feel connected to something bigger.”
The freelance journalist and copywriter now also uses her job to help others impacted by cancer, as well as other health conditions.
“If I see someone who has been impacted by cancer or other health issues, and is struggling financially, or may not be able to afford various treatments, I like to reach out and see if I can help by writing their stories.”
“It’s cathartic, it gives them a voice, and can help raise quite a bit of money, which is wonderful.”
“I like to do it in pop and dad’s memory and because I know what it feels like to be impacted by cancer and health issues. I don’t want anyone else to have to go through that—and if they do, I want them to not have to worry about the financial strain. And I want others going through the same thing to know they aren’t alone.”
Despite Valentine’s Day being associated with her grandfather’s passing, Zoe says she has come to see it differently.
“I view it as a day to celebrate my love for my pop and my dad. It’s an opportunity to reflect and remember them.”