“When I saw The March Charge pop up on Facebook, it felt like the right thing to do” – Kate Niland
By Cancer Council NSW
Kate Niland is no stranger to the effects of cancer. Kate and her husband have both lost many family members to various diagnoses – including her 22-year-old cousin who died from bowel cancer while she was still in high school.
“He was far too young,” she said, “and since then, I’ve always tried to find any way that I can help. It’s a cause very close to our hearts,” Kate says.
Around five years ago, Kate was scrolling through Facebook when she saw something about The March Charge, a fitness challenge to raise funds for cancer research and support services. Even with her two young children, she took the challenge head on.
Immediately, Kate discovered she loved fundraising and getting fit.
The rush of communal support
“Throughout the month, you realise how much support you have,” Kate says. “I would post every day and even people I don’t speak to all the time would respond,” she adds. “It helps me remember that I’m doing a good thing and it motivates me to carry on.”
And this support helped her push through and stay active for the whole month. “Other mums there would shout cheers of support as I’d run past with the pram,” she says.
“There are so many benefits to doing The March Charge. I’ve even had friends and family join in with me to complete the KM’s!
Unfortunately, her run-ins with cancer were far from over.
Kate’s own cancer journey
In October 2019, after what Kate describes as the pain of a pulled stomach muscle turned into the agony of labour, she was rushed to the hospital where they told her she had appendicitis. They quickly performed surgery to remove it.
“However, after surgery they found out that what they actually removed was a neuroendocrine tumour (which spreads through lymph nodes) that was about 31mm- the size of my appendix,” Kate shares.
“I was told it was so slow that I could have been growing it for the last five years—such a coincidence that I could have had it the whole five years I’ve been fundraising for Cancer Council.”
After some more appointments, Kate’s doctors told her she would need further surgery to protect her from further spread of the cancer.
Still charging this March
Her recent diagnosis might prevent her from participating as much as she normally would in The March Charge this year, but Kate is still determined to support the cause as much as she can.
“I’m having surgery to remove any chance of other tumours outside of where my appendix was. I’ll try to do some KM’s but it won’t be as many as in previous years —maybe I’ll get my husband to do it for me!” she states.
You can get involved too
Kate might not be able to push herself too hard this March, but you can. If you’re thinking of taking part, Kate has some words of advice for you:
“My main tip for people taking part in The March Charge would be making sure you set a reasonable goal,” Kate says. “I started off with 20KM’s my first time around. And each year I’ve done a little better and pushed the KM’s up even more,”
“It’s also important to look after yourself,” she adds. “With a month of doing something every day, you need to make sure you’re resting and eating properly too.”