“I was home with newborn twins when my close friend, Sarah, who we all called Foster, rang me from her car telling me that the colonoscopy had found bowel cancer. Shortly after, she had a bowel resection and commenced rounds of chemotherapy.

Sarah had recently returned from years of living overseas and was really in the prime of her life in terms of career, romance and knowing what she wanted out of life. This news was such a terrible shock to us all - she was almost 34 at the time of diagnosis. It made no sense, she was young, vibrant, healthy and didn’t fit the stereotypical picture of a bowel cancer patient.

My first Dry July was in 2019. The “hardship” of a month without alcohol was insignificant in comparison to Sarah’s bravery and approach to chemotherapy. Although she was a health professional who had worked in many hospitals; she had always hated being a patient and had fears of needles. But her love for life, her partner, doggo, friends, family, and the world outweighed her fears and she went through rounds of treatment and tried everything available to beat the disease and gain time. Foster adored my twins and spent so much time marvelling at their every development, and she became their Kuma (Croatian for Godmother).

Foster was passionate about raising awareness. She encouraged people to stay curious about their bodies. She met Jody, another young bowel cancer patient, and together they began the account “Cells Behaving Badly”. She took the time she had to try and make the most of life, marrying her partner Justin.

2020 was such a hard year, limiting Foster’s time and taking away the more humane aspects of her treatment. Despite this, her treating team were amazing and compassionate in such trying circumstances. The same year, my cousin Danny, whose only symptom was a cough he couldn’t shake, was also diagnosed with Stage 4 bowel cancer. The disease had reached his lungs; he was 41 at the time of diagnosis.

In November 2020, aged 36, Sarah died and left a huge hole in our lives. In December 2020, aged 42, Danny died, leaving behind his wife and two young daughters. The ripple effect of their loss continues; as do the wonderful memories of two amazing people who lived incredible lives.

It is the memories of both Foster and Danny that mean I can fundraise so well in Dry July; so many lovely people donate in their honour. Sadly, a close friend of mine also lost her sister to the disease 2 months ago. It only sharpens my resolve to keep fundraising in honour of those gone too soon.

2023 is my 5th year of Dry July. This year I went sugar, chocolate and alcohol-free for a month for Bowel Cancer Australia. It’s great to see the work they do in increasing awareness, adapting screening to research and supporting those who are going through it. I’m very pleased to see Social Work and a Nutritionist joining the team, to give more holistic care. Thank you Bowel Cancer Australia.” ~ Monique.

Monique T

If you were inspired by Monique's fundraising activities and would like to support Bowel Cancer Australia through Dry July further details are available here.