Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan and face of Bundaberg's Relay For Life Molly Dawson. Photo: Rhylea Millar
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan and face of Bundaberg's Relay For Life Molly Dawson. Photo: Rhylea Millar

INSPIRING: How one young local plans to make lifesaving difference

Molly Dawson is an inspiring woman to say the least.

The year after she graduated from Shalom College Molly decided to have a gap year and accepted a teacher's aide role at her former high school.

With endless opportunities and the world at her feet, it should have been the most exciting time of Molly's life but that came crashing down when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Molly Dawson has been announced as the face for Cancer Council Queensland’s Relay For Life. It’s the second consecutive year she has accepted the role for the Bundaberg event. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Molly Dawson has been announced as the face for Cancer Council Queensland’s Relay For Life. It’s the second consecutive year she has accepted the role for the Bundaberg event. Picture: Rhylea Millar

"I was diagnosed in 2019 when I was just 17-years-old … it was quite a shock and I didn't really know what to think or how to feel," Molly said.

"I had a random lump pop up on my collarbone so I got it checked out … it's actually pretty common in young females so you've just always got to be aware of those lumps and bumps."

Going into remission just weeks before her final treatment Molly underwent eight long months of chemotherapy and radiation.

Now the brave young woman has been named the face of Cancer Council Bundaberg's Relay For Life for the second time and last two consecutive years.

And she's not taking the opportunity for granted, using the platform as a chance to educate, inspire and make sure she can save as many lives as possible in the process.

Australian actor and founder of Love My Sister Samuel Johnson met Molly Dawson in 2019 – the year she received her diagnosis – and offered some reassuring words during his Bundaberg visit.Picture: Rhylea Millar
Australian actor and founder of Love My Sister Samuel Johnson met Molly Dawson in 2019 – the year she received her diagnosis – and offered some reassuring words during his Bundaberg visit.Picture: Rhylea Millar

"It's so exciting to be the face of Bundaberg's Relay For Life again in 2021 because it is a much larger event with the Fraser Coast joining," Molly said.

"Being the face of relay involves promoting awareness and becoming someone that people can hopefully look up to or inspire them to get involved, donate and just think about cancer a little more."

Molly said the event which she holds close to her heart is also a special way to assist anyone who has been affected by cancer in someway whether it be patients, carers or families.

Thanking the Cancer Council for their support throughout her journey Molly said she hopes to pay it forward by helping young people particularly.

"It has inspired me to help others because so many people are affected by this disease and especially young people - it's really important to me to create awareness," she said.

"There's so much help for people with cancer but there's kind of a gap for the kids who are aged 15 to 19.

"It's such a unique disease and everyone's stories are different … once you finish treatment or you're in remission it doesn't just stop - cancer is part of your life forever."

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan and face of Bundaberg's Relay For Life Molly Dawson. Picture: Rhylea Millar
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Chris McMillan and face of Bundaberg's Relay For Life Molly Dawson. Picture: Rhylea Millar

The announcement comes as Cancer Council Queensland marks six decades of vital work across the sunshine state - an initiative which was started by a small group of volunteers in 1961.

And with 1820 new cancer cases recorded and 602 people tragically losing their lives to cancer annually in the Wide Bay, the non-for-profit remains essential throughout the region.

Prostate cancer is the most common type with 266 males diagnosed across the Wide Bay each year followed by melanoma with 246 cases.

"It's wonderful to be here in Bundaberg celebrating 60 years strong of Cancer Council Queensland," Cancer Council chief executive officer Chris McMillan said.

"The community support we've had right throughout Queensland is amazing and none more so than this great region here."

Ms McMillan said over the last six years the amount of support services offered have grown with 30,000 Queenslanders receiving a cancer diagnosis every year.

State Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith with Chris McMillan and Molly Dawson. Picture: Rhylea Millar
State Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith with Chris McMillan and Molly Dawson. Picture: Rhylea Millar

Providing education, prevention, helpline and counselling services to patients and loved ones, the organisation also invests in research with the ultimate goal being to reach a cancer-free future.

"It's really just about wrapping our arms around individuals and families to get them through their cancer experience," Ms McMillan said.

"So many people tell us they didn't have a lot to do with Cancer Council prior to a diagnosis and then once they engage with us they become part of that family.

"We provide an experience to try and normalise things for them, we connect them with other people who have had the same cancer or carers who are going through the same thing."

In addition to Relay For Life, Cancer Council Queensland has brought many campaigns to Bundaberg over the last 60 years from the Terry Fox Run, Bumz on Bikes and Bundy's Beaut Bloke among others.

Residents may also remember Sid the Seagull who hit television screens across the state in the early 80s in a bid to encourage the public to use sun protection and slip, slop, slap.

The Bundaberg and Fraser Coast Relay For Life is on Saturday, August 14 from 2pm to 11pm, at the Bundaberg Recreational Precinct.

To register and take part in the event click here or for more information about Cancer Council Queensland click here.

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