SAM Wilson knows better than most the challenges that come with giving up alcohol.
But after watching her mum battle breast cancer, she also knows the difference funds raised as part of Dry July can make.
The founder of online community Sober Mates and has signed on as Dry July ambassador for 2021.
Sam’s mum, Anu Wilson, was diagnosed with breast cancer after detecting a lump in March 2017, aged 52.
With her next mammogram still five months away, she acted quickly and booked a GP appointment to advise her doctor of the change. Before long she was at hospital for a mammogram and biopsy.
“I still remember breaking down on the phone in a meeting room at work when I got the call from Dad,” Sam says, adding that her mum was based in country Victoria at the time.
“It was a shock to our entire family. She honestly thought that when she was going to Geelong the doctors were going to say the lump was benign.
“She is a non-drinker, non-smoker and has looked after her health all her life.
“I was the rock, organiser, communicator for the family. I was the one on loud speaker in the doctor’s office because I was the only one capable of taking the information in.”
On April 12, 2017, Anu was operated on but later check-ups revealed it was growing faster than first suspected and chemo and radiation would be required.
She endured six rounds of chemo, each five hour sessions, at Portland Hospital followed by radiation five days a week for four weeks in Warrnambool.
Today, the happy and healthy 56-year-old continues to attend six monthly check-ups but supporting Geelong’s own cancer service is still close to Sam’s heart.
“Dry July raises funds for the support services that helped Mum most after the treatment, like her Cancer Support Group. This group had meetings to talk about their feelings, caught up for coffee at different cafes, had a Christmas event,” Sam explains.
“Mum still can’t get over how incredible the nurses were at all the hospitals she visited, she will be forever grateful for their support and care.”
While Sam has been sober for over a year now, she shares tips and tricks as part of her Sober Mates community that might help Dry July participants hold strong at social outings during the challenge, and also educate them on the physical and mental benefits of their alcohol free month.
“I decided to take a three month break from alcohol and when I got six weeks in I had never felt better,” Sam shares.
“I thought ‘why wouldn’t I want to feel like this every day?’ so I decided to say bye to booze for good!”
Sign up at dryjuly.com and select Andrew Love Cancer Centre to ensure funds raised support your local health service.