WHAT started as a break from booze for former Murrurundi resident Rebecca Gallegos has turned into a passionate campaign to raise awareness of the importance of the early detection of cancer.
She has thrown her support behind Dry July, where participants go without alcohol for a month, in an effort to raise money for the North West Cancer Centre in Tamworth.
Inspired by her father and long-term Murrurundi resident Danny’s journey through treatment after he was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer two years ago, she has set herself a fundraising goal of $10,000.
“I decided at the end of May that I wanted to have a break from drinking and I thought well I may as well keep going and do Dry July,” she said.
“After dad was diagnosed, he had an operation at Maitland Hospital and he did really well.
“He then had the option of doing chemotherapy at Muswellbrook or Tamworth.”
The family settled on Muswellbrook, but after hundreds of kilometres driving back and forth, the travel became too much for Rebecca’s father.
Now, Ms Gallegos is determined to reach her fundraising goal, settling on the North West Cancer Centre in Tamworth because they offer free accommodation and Transport to Treatment vehicles with voluntary drivers to cancer patients.
If she reaches her $10,000 target, Dry July might match the funds, which will hopefully contribute to another transport vehicle service for the Murrurundi, Scone and Werris Creek areas.
“But we can’t get there unless people donate,” she added.
“I’m at just over $2,000 at the moment and it will all go towards supporting so many people in the Upper Hunter and Tamworth areas.”
Ms Gallegos, who now lives in Sydney, said she has access to a plethora of bulk billing doctors within walking distance, but in the country it’s a different story.
“I know from living in Murrurundi and having family and friends there that it’s hard to keep a good GP in a small country town.
“It has an impact on people because a lot of men in particular don’t want to fuss or go and search for a good GP.
“The result is people often wait a long time to get treatment for things.
“Dad had symptoms for twelve months and he did the at-home test kit for bowel cancer that the government sends.
“That’s how his was found, but it was found at stage 3.”
Ms Gallegos drove home the importance of early detection.
“Early detection is just so important and if anything I want to raise awareness of people taking their healthcare seriously.
“There is also a message in Dry July about reducing your alcohol intake which is a health risk for cancer.
“I would encourage everyone to have a go at 30 days alcohol free because it’s surprisingly empowering.
“A lot of people have asked me how dad is at the moment, and he’s doing okay at the moment,” she added.
You can make a donation to help Rebecca reach her $10,000 goal until the end of August at https://www.dryjuly.com/teams/bec-s-booze-free-bandwagon