Courage through adversity

Renee Gani overcame her own health battle before starting a journey to raise cancer awareness among men and women. She shares her story and insights into working for the Make-A-Wish fundraising and events team.

Having fought her own cancer battle, Renee Gani had many useful insights to share when she joined Make-A-Wish Australia.

Renee could relate to many of the Make-A-Wish children and families faced with their childhood cancer journeys.

When she was 36, Renee discovered a lump in one of her breasts, and when it didn’t disappear, she went to see her GP and then underwent scans.

The diagnosis of breast cancer shocked Renee and husband Darren.

“It was just a really surreal moment,” Renee said.

“Your heart falls into your stomach. I had not long before had my son, and I had bad post-natal, and then I just got over that, and I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Darren and I were going ‘this is ridiculous’ and wondering how so much can happen to one person in a year.”

Renee’s treatment involved chemotherapy and surgery, and she has been cancer-free for seven years.

When she was back on her feet, Renee started volunteering for Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) before eventually accepting a job there.

During several years at the BCNA Renee took every opportunity to raise breast cancer awareness among women, and also men.

“I just wanted to make sure that girls and women and men were checking themselves. They should be aware of any changes in their bodies,” Renee said.

“There were people who weren’t as lucky as I was. I just felt like it was almost my duty, calling and sort of an obligation to the sisterhood and everyone that I knew. I just wanted them to look after themselves.”

Renee went from working at the BCNA to Make-A-Wish Australia about 18 months ago.

“I just felt I was ready to leave the breast cancer world,” she said.

“Make-A-Wish was the perfect fit because I had kids and was passionate about helping families.”

Renee works in the Make-A-Wish Community Fundraising and Events team.

“I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people and be part of some extraordinary events and raise awareness and funds for Make-A-Wish,” she said.

One of her favourite events has been the Essendon Fields King Island Classic, which as well as raising funds for Make-A-Wish, helped her learn more about golf, one of her husband’s hobbies.

Renee said she engages with anyone wanting to fundraise for Make-A-Wish, and assists the charity’s volunteers with their fundraising events.

While the fundraising team had been affected by the COVID-19 restrictions, with many events postponed, other avenues were found to raise much-needed funds for Make-A-Wish.

“Even through an uncertain time, people still want to give,” Renee said. “We are very thankful!”

You can make the impossible possible

Right now, because of COVID-19, more children are waiting for a wish than ever before. Your support has never been more urgently required.

If you’d like to fundraise to support kids with critical illness, head over to makeawish.org.au, to find out how.