Inspired by a lost loved one

Finding a cure to a disease that claimed her loved one has motivated a Tanjil South woman to ride 200 gruelling kilometres over two days next month.

Stephanie Cassar will cycle in the Ride to Conquer cancer on 26 and 27 October in a bid to raise money for the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, which treated her uncle before he died from bowel cancer in November 2012.

The 23 year-old nurse said she was riding from Melbourne to the Mornington Peninsula because she wanted to do whatever she could, so other families did not have to go through what hers did.

“People shouldn’t be dying from cancer at this point in time. We should know what the cure is,” Stephanie said.

She said her uncle, Andrew Cooper, was a Traralgon man with a wife and three children, who rode his bike for fun with his boys or best mate.

“He was into riding. I got a bike when he was getting sick and started riding around casually,” she said.

“When he was in hospital I saw the ride advertised and when he passed away I decided I would ride.

“From there I got a lot more serious; I got a better bike, started training.”

Stephanie said training was hard-work, particularly on cold days during winter, but said the ride was “meant to be hard”.

“It can be very painful, but you’re meant to suffer, to understand what people with cancer went through,” she said.

“My uncle still had so much life to live. So we’ve got to live it for him.”

Stephanie said it was hard to find time for training, let alone fundraising, so her mum and Andrew’s sister Paula Cooper have helped by organising and catering for a high tea on Mother’s Day and a gourmet barbecue.

“It does take a long time to cook it all, especially the high tea, with all the small pastries it takes me a week to get it all prepared,” Ms Cooper said.

Ms Cooper said she would follow her daughter by car during the ride and stay with her at Hastings overnight, then meet her at the finish line, which she expected would be an “emotional” moment.

The mum and daughter’s next fundraising event will be High Tea at Yallourn Bowls Club on September 29 starting at 1.30pm.

Cost is $27 per person, with all money going to the Peter MacCullum Cancer Centre.

To book phone Yallourn Bowls Club on 5127 1913 and ask for the bar.

To donate to Stephanie’s cause online visit click donate and search for Stephanie Cassar.