Everything I do at the moment seems to come back to the Ride to Conquer Cancer. Even my Christmas present.

I have a trusty but rusty mountain bike that I’ve ridden for ten years now. The lovely people at my local bike shop gently suggested that I might find it hard going to do 200km in two days on the thing, unless I wanted to be riding from dawn to midnight. (No thanks.) So I was delighted when my family gave me a Christmas card saying ‘IOU one new bike’.

Not that it’s all suffering and sacrifice. Last weekend I went out and got fitted up with my new darling, a very gorgeous dark red Specialized road bike called Vita (a bike has to have a name – and it is really the model name). It’s true love.

I’ve already done a couple of training rides on Vita. It’s taking me a little while to get used to her, but she’s smooth and zippy and I think we’ll get along just fine.

On the fundraising side of things, I’ve just about got my website up and running. Pretty soon you’ll be able to go online and buy copies of my book Positive to support my Ride to Conquer Cancer efforts. When you buy the book through my website, you benefit three ways:

  • you get 50 inspiring stories
  • you get the chance to contribute to the fight against cancer, and
  • you get a bargain: Positive retails for $27.99, but you can buy it for $20.00 – and that includes P&P. All the profits go to my Ride to Conquer Cancer fund.

Thanks for your patience in waiting for the books to go on sale. If you would like to support me in the mean time, you can go to The Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer website here and make a donation via the website (Participant ID: 660879-2).


My training for the Ride to Conquer Cancer is underway now. I’ve done one 23km ride and surprised myself by a) completing it and b) not hurting too much. I’ve increased the length of my gym workouts, building in extra strength work to build the muscles that will power me up the hills.

Here’s the thing that is driving me on this week. Like most people, I’ve lost someone I loved to cancer. My mum died of lung cancer, eight years ago – just a few days after my first daughter was born. She lives on in my heart, but there are not many days that pass when I don’t wish she were still here to see her granddaughters growing up.

As I spin my wheels up a hill or work up a sweat at the gym, I think of her. Always my biggest supporter, mum was a generous spirit who would love to see me doing something to cancel out cancer in the lives of others.

The Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer® is a unique, two-day cycling event. On 18-19 August 2012, a couple of thousand people will cycle over 200k through Queensland’s scenic countryside to conquer cancer. The money we raise for The Ride will benefit the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, a worldwide leader in cancer research and discovery. QIMR devotes half of its research to understanding the causes of cancer and developing better diagnostics and treatments. Our efforts will have a real impact in our community, across Australia, and around the world.

If you’d like to back me in the Ride, please make a donation online. In January I’ll be offering special sales on my book Positive, about 50 amazing people who found life in the midst of cancer, to help raise funds for the Ride too. Watch this space to find out more.

[Disclaimer: those are not my legs in the photo – still a way to go before I’m that fit.]

Next August, I’ll be participating in a 2-day major cycling event called The Rio Tinto Ride to Conquer Cancer®, benefiting the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR).

I’ll be cycling over 200 kilometres that weekend through Queensland’s scenic countryside, with thousands of other riders. All the proceeds will go to QIMR: a worldwide leader in cancer research and discovery, and one of the largest research institutes in the southern hemisphere.

I’ve agreed to raise at least $2,500, but I’ve set my personal goal to $3,000. So here’s where you come in – because I need your help to do that. Please consider making a donation of $100. Use the link here to visit my webpage and support me. It’s easy to set up a regular payment plan, too, if you prefer to spread your donation across several months. Please keep in mind the commitment I’m making to end this heartbreaking disease, and the personal efforts I’ll have to make to accomplish this.

When I say ‘heartbreaking’, here’s what I mean: with 1 in 2 Australians diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and an estimated 115,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed in Australia in 2011, cancer is the second leading cause of Australian deaths and affects almost 20% of the population. More than 43,600 people are expected to die from cancer in 2011. That’s why I’m riding. To do something BIG about cancer. I hope that you’ll share this incredible adventure with me by supporting my fundraising efforts.

One of the major ways I’ll be fundraising is by donating the profits from my book Positive. This book is a collection of 50 stories of people who, against all odds, have found something good in the midst of their cancer experience. One of the big reasons I’m doing the Ride to Conquer Cancer in 2012 is to honour the amazing people who contributed their personal stories to Positive.

Every copy of Positive bought directly from me (personally or through my website) will play a part. I’ll have more information on that for you in January, once I’ve got the webpage up and running.

Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Featuring deeply personal insights from author Stephanie Dowrick, Sass & Bide founder Heidi Middleton and former Australian cricketer and AFL player Simon O’Donnell amongst many others, Positive represents a collection of 50 voices: cancer survivors‚ carers‚ partners‚ parents‚ siblings. Together‚ their stories map out the terrain of the upside of cancer the opportunity to draw together (as friends, as a couple, as a family); the torrent of support, love and prayers that are unleashed; the impetus to go deeper and embrace the strength, fears and purpose that lie within each of us.

Positive is available now from all good book retailers, both bricks and mortar and online.

Go to Booktopia

Go to Amazon Kindle Store

Go to Borders


Here’s a rather lovely review of my book Positive, which was published by HarperCollins last year.

Read more


Quote from Olympic athlete Raelene Boyle in Positive: ‘In many ways I think cancer has helped me put my career as an athlete into perspective. Read more

Some of the people I interviewed for Positive were grimly, passionately determined not to let cancer get the better of them, and it was that “take no prisoners” attitude I wanted to capture. I never wanted the book to be a sentimental sermon about looking on the bright side. Bernadette Vella was fourteen weeks pregnant with her second child when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. If anyone needed to be relentlessly stubborn in fighting disease, it was her.

“I don’t like to lose – it is not something I do often. The cancer could control my body and I had no choice about that, but it could not control my mind and spirit. I had a lot of anger (apparently that’s a normal reaction to cancer) and I directed all of my anger and negative thoughts at beating the cancer. Physically I could only fight it as much as my weakened body would allow. But mentally it surely picked the wrong person to fight with. If I was going to die, then I was going to go down fighting.

“There were definitely moments of feeling sad and sorry for myself, but they were truly few and far between. I always felt that if I felt down then the cancer was getting into my emotions, and it was an unwelcome visitor there … I also felt like I was not just doing it for myself and my family, but I was doing it for all the other women out there who get diagnosed with cancer while they are pregnant. I knew that if I could survive and carry my daughter to as close to term as possible, and if she came out with no complications, then I could give others hope that a cancer diagnosis while pregnant doesn’t mean the end of life for either the mother or the child.

Bernadette Vella (from Sally Collings, Positive, published by HarperCollinsPublishers Australia in 2009)