Daffodil day volunteers Lto R :Fay Martin, Dorothy Lockart, Robyn Dyson, Chris Jones.
Daffodil day volunteers Lto R :Fay Martin, Dorothy Lockart, Robyn Dyson, Chris Jones. Trevor Veale

Dash of yellow to give hope for the future

COFFS Harbour cancer survivor Vanessa Smith loves Daffodil Day.

"I think Daffodil Day is a symbol of hope and joy," Vanessa said.

"It represents the beauty of the earth and flowers, and it always makes me think of my lovely mum, Muri who died from pancreatic cancer in 2009.

"She died shortly before Daffodil Day and at her funeral we had daffodils and yellow and white balloons to honour the bright inspirational woman she was.

Vanessa herself was diagnosed with breast cancer last year at the age of 56.

After two operations, chemotherapy and radiation treatment she says she is very grateful to be alive and blessed with wonderful children, family and friends.

She also loves helping the Cancer Council.

"I love volunteering - I have been doing it since I was 17," Vanessa said.

"So when my sister Maureen was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early forties I became involved with the Cancer Council.

My sister lived overseas, but I felt somehow by being involved with the Cancer Council I was making a difference for her and everyone with or touched by cancer.

"A couple of years after I moved to Coffs Harbour my sister died aged 56, so I decided to join the Coffs Harbour Relay for Life Committee. 2015 will be my third year on the committee and I just love it"

Vanessa said the Cancer Council had provided her and her children with support, advice and information.

She was also able to have her will drawn up free of charge and received a one-off payment to help her pay an unexpected bill when illness meant additional costs and less income

"As a survivor they continue to provide me with emotional and concrete support through their survivorship program," she said.

"When you come up against unexpected challenges in life, in this case cancer, it has a lot of impacts.

"I am very fortunate that I have a loving close family who supported my decisions.

"The approach we took to dealing with my cancer was to be honest about out feelings, our fears, to love each other and to fight it with all we had.

"As a family we have grown stronger, are clearer about what really matters, and our priorities; as individuals I think we are more resilient but also more vulnerable - we are all very aware of our mortality.

"As a mum I know no matter what happens my children will be there for each other.

"Cancer is scary, and if by sharing my story I can touch or help someone in some way, to give them some hope, or let them know that there are people and organisations like the Cancer Council who can help them then it means something.