ON A MISSION: Sandra Bryant and Nicky Orchard at the Walk4Brain Cancer.
ON A MISSION: Sandra Bryant and Nicky Orchard at the Walk4Brain Cancer. Che Chapman

Heartbreak drives cancer fundraiser on Sunshine Coast

THE heart-wrenching pain of losing long-time friend Holly Bryant to brain cancer is still raw for Nicky Orchard.

Prior to the diagnosis, Ms Orchard had no idea how prevalent the condition was and how families struggled to cope with the immense emotional and financial toll of the aggressive form of cancer.

Ms Orchard and Kim Eltringham co-ordinated the inaugural Sunshine Coast Walk4Brain Cancer, which was supported by nearly 300 people yesterday.

Among those who laced up their shoes for the 5km and 10km walks from Cotton Tree Park were people undergoing treatment for brain cancers. More than $20,000 was raised through donations and fundraising raffles.

The money will go towards critical research for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, which aims to increase five-year brain cancer survival from 20% to 50% by 2023.

Ms Orchard said she did not want to see any families go through the pain of losing a loved one.

"It was just heart breaking to see somebody that our family loved dearly, a 33-year-old who was fit, healthy and such a good person, be lost," she said.

Charmaine Payne, Roberto, 6, and Joanna Atzori, with Morgan Winter.
Charmaine Payne, Roberto, 6, and Joanna Atzori, with Morgan Winter.

"When she passed away, I was shocked how little I knew about brain cancer and when I found out the

statistics and how it is the biggest killer of children with childhood diseases, I knew I had to do something to help."

Ms Bryant's sister Natasha and mother Sandra attended the walk, one of many held throughout the country.

Natasha remembered the devastating day she heard Holly's diagnosis.

"It was overwhelming to even begin to imagine how this disease was going to take her away," she said.

"The helplessness was unbearable, especially for Holly. "There was nothing we could do but surround her and love her and pray that her life would end quickly for her sake and more slowly for ours.

"Even now, six months after her passing, the senselessness of her death is crippling for those left behind to wonder why her, why so young, why her brain.

"We will never have answers to these questions, which makes losing Holly even more painful."

Cure Brain Cancer Foundation chief executive officer Catherine Stace said science was on the brink of exciting breakthroughs.

"It's remarkably inspiring to see so many Queenslanders getting to their feet in honour of those who have lost their battle to brain cancer and raise funds to transform outcomes for those fighting the disease," Ms Stace said.

"Every dollar raised propels us closer to increasing the survival rate of brain cancer and accelerating lifesaving treatments for patients," she said.

To donate, visit www.walk4braincancer.com.au.