MEL Trigg knows as well as anyone why Relay for Life is a celebration of lives lived and lives lost.
The Warrnambool mother was part of the Tribe of Dan team and was one of the 1000 people who took to Deakin University oval last night in solidarity.
Fourteen months ago, Mrs Trigg had brain surgery to remove a three-centimetre tumour. She first noticed something was wrong after she lost hearing in her left ear.
“I went for a basic hearing test and then I was sent for an MRI,” she said. “They found a two-centimetre-sized tumour.
“I wasn’t too keen on neurosurgery and I thought I’d wait and see.
“After six months they found it had grown another centimetre.”
Brain surgery was fast tracked and Mrs Trigg underwent a nine-hour operation which required 32 staples needed in her head.
To everyone’s relief, it was a non-cancerous tumour, but because of its size it caused nerve damage.
She lost hearing in her left ear, almost all her sight in her left eye and suffered paralysis on the left side of her face.
She said that before the surgery, she had to have unimaginable conversations with family and friends. “I prepared a will and all those things. But I woke up from surgery and I’m still here.
“It’s been a matter of getting on with life.
“People have said I dodged a bullet and I agree.”
It was after time spent fund-raising for others affected by cancer, including Jesse Brookes and Bryce Neild, Mrs Trigg was faced with her own battle.
Her shift for the walk would begin at 3am and finish at 5am today. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here tonight,” she said. “It’s the opposite of depressing. Everyone here has been touched or has some reason to walk.
“When it comes to cancer there are very few positives. This can make a difference.
“We’re all coming together and celebrating lives lived and lives lost.” The closing ceremony is at 1pm today.