Wayne’s mission to raise funds for others affected by cancer
In 2018, Wayne “Macca” McDonell was reasonably fit. He didn’t smoke, he wasn’t overweight, and he rode horses every day.
He had been getting blood tests every 2 years with nothing out of the ordinary at 50 and 52 years old. But at 54, his biennial blood test revealed a high Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) count.
After getting this result, Wayne was sent for scans and a biopsy.
Coping with diagnosis and treatment
In October of 2018, doctors found cancer in his prostate, but because it had metastasized the prostate was in-operable.
Because doctors couldn’t operate, Wayne began hormone therapy and radiation.
During hormonal treatment, Wayne also completed 36 rounds of radiation on his prostate over the span of two months, with his final two treatments at a level of six times the radiation to treat cancer that had spread to his hip. Unfortunately, Wayne’s PSA count started to rise again so the hormone drugs were switched. For a time, this proved to be effective, but later tests revealed that the cancer had become resistant to the drugs.
Despite his situation growing more complicated, Wayne says “I try and make good every day and be thankful for everything, especially my wife, family and many good friends.”
Wayne and his wife Lisa have recently celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary, and their family is growing. Their three children are married, and they have five grandchildren.
He adds, “It’s been tough on Lisa, but it’s honestly been a journey for the whole family, and I’ve got a big family and good mates that ring me regularly, everyone is there going along with you giving their support.”
Inspired to help raise funds for those affected by cancer
In 2019, Wayne and Lisa were visiting their friends Sandro and Janice after their daughter Stephanie passed away from brain cancer a couple months earlier, “she was only 32, married, and had a little 2-year-old girl which is incredibly sad”.
Stephanie was part owner in a local dance company called Orange United Dance Project which has been heavily involved with STARS of Orange since it first took place.
While talking about STARS, Sandro had mentioned that Stephanie was being commemorated at the upcoming STARS event. That’s when Lisa nominated Wayne as a possible star, saying “we should sign up Macca”.
Within a few months, Wayne was signed up for STARS of Orange to begin his journey to the dancefloor in front of the Orange community, only for it to be cancelled due to COVID-19.
Interacting after being isolated during COVID-19 lockdowns
With the pandemic, came isolation and lockdowns, which resulted in STARS of Orange, as well as many other events being cancelled not just once, but multiple times.
It wasn’t until March 2022 that STARS of Orange finally went ahead.
Communities that hadn’t been able to come together throughout the pandemic, could finally be face to face again, and Wayne says, “we had a fantastic night!”.
As a business owner in Orange since 1987, Wayne has employed people from around the community over the years, while also dealing with a large range of suppliers and sub-contractors.
Using these relationships, Wayne says “I made some phone calls and took advantage of my connections across the community to raise funds.”
Wayne’s hard work paid off, raising nearly $38k, while also using the event as a forum to encourage more men to get regular PSA blood tests.
Wayne recalls his experience dancing with Sandro, saying “dancing with the team from Orange United Dance Project at STARS made it even more special because we have that connection of a personal experience with cancer.”
“That’s why I did STARS, to do something positive for the community, raise funds and shine a light on how much cancer affects the community”, Wayne says.
STARS is a community-driven, dance gala event. Every year, local business owners and personalities light up the dance floor to raise vital funds for Cancer Council’s world-class research, prevention, advocacy, and information and support.