23 June, 2008

A life less ordinary

Okay, readers. I know this might seem like a depressing post but I promise you it'll be the last one like it for a while.
Non Australians won't know who this woman is. Her name is Jane McGrath. Born Jane Steele, she was an air stewardess from England. During a stopover in Hong Kong she met an Australian man called Glenn. They fell in love, Jane moved to Australia and married Glenn. They had two children, James and Holly.
Glenn was rather good at cricket. Jane didn't know who he was when they met but she soon found out that Glenn McGrath is considered by some to be one of Australia's greatest cricketers.
Why am I telling you all of this? Jane McGrath died yesterday at the age of 42. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer over a decade ago at the age of just 31. Following initial treatment she went on to have two healthy children. Bone secondaries appeared a few years ago and Jane carried on living her life as wife and mother until passing away.
But this is more than just another story about a woman dying before her time. After her initial diagnosis Jane didn't just sit back and get on with her life. She and Glenn created The McGrath Foundation. Its aim is to raise money to pay for breast care nurses throughout regional and rural Australia. Each nurse position cost $100,000. There are four McGrath nurses in Australia.
At around 2pm yesterday the donation total for the latest nurse stood at about $65,000. By 8pm a further $20,000 had been raised. Reports on the website today show that a further $100,000 has been donated over the last 24 hours. An English girl falls in love, moves half way across the world, faces the fight of her life and makes an entire country fall in love with her in the process.
Jane McGrath was a wife, mum, sister, daughter and friend. She was an inspiration to other women suffering from breast cancer. She lived her life with determination and a positive attitude.
I'm going to end with a quote from a television interview that Jane and Glenn gave to Andrew Denton in 2004. I think it tells you all you need to know about what kind of woman she was. The interviewer had asked Jane if the diagnosis had weakened her relationship with Glenn or made it stronger. Jane said it had made it stronger and then went on to say this-
JANE McGRATH: But it can also...on the other hand, it can also break people too. So I guess it's a true test of...I don't know if 'character' is the right word, but of who you are, because, I mean, women can leave their husbands after having breast cancer or a life-threatening illness and decide that all of a sudden they realise there's more to life than the life they're living, so it's not...it's not just men that decide they can't live with a woman that has a scar, for example. It goes a lot...runs a lot deeper than that. And, I think having something like cancer, although it's been frightening and, one of the worst things ever, it's also been one of the best things ever, because, I don't know. It all goes into making you the person you are, and for me now, just to wake up in the morning - it doesn't matter if it's raining or the sun's shining. It really doesn't matter, 'cause every day's a great day, you know? And it's...it really is the simple things in life that count, and a lot of those things, people don't even think about. They're too busy rushing to get into the city or rushing to work or rushing to get the children ready for something. And they don't stop to smell the roses, I suppose. And we do.


Foodycat said...

What a woman. I remember seeing her interviewed when the bone secondaries were diagnosed and her absolute resolution that she would not go quietly. She is leaving such a great legacy, but such a shame that she has to leave at all.

mscrankypants said...

She seemed so true to herself, and full of enthusiasm, and charming, and just a lovely person in the interviews I saw. And spent more than a quarter of her life trying to beat that awful disease -- RIP.

SSS said...

And they seemed so in love. She had a shorter life than some but my God, wasn't it full to the brim?