Friday, 29 March 2013


Today was special for the fact that I got some time out on the road, minus the vehicles. No traffic; just me and the open road. Sorry I rabbit on a bit, but here are some of my thoughts recorded into my phone!


600+ k’s along pot-holed, corrugated, rocky, sandy track. The great Oodnadatta Track. Not built for unicycles, that’s for sure, virtue of the fact that we snapped the unicycle today!

Injured Unicycle

As Jon Bon Jonno put it, ‘I’m just glad that the Oodnadatta broke the unicycle, and not you!’ But she damn near did break me. I got stuck in the sand over and over and was pitched off my saddle again and again. The rocks and holes hit my balls and my back with relentless enthusiasm. The heat extracted all out of me physically. The winds played havoc with my state of mind. There seemed no light at the end of the tunnel. This is me 20 k’s from the end of it all…

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Connie's Diary - Capital Chemist Fundraiser

The Capital Chemist in Kingston look after all my medication, they pack my Webster packs (a packet marked with my morning, lunch time, dinner and night time medications, all prepacked for the whole week, so I can’t forget anything and my pain is managed. It makes taking my meds easy, and they do a really good job and make things easy for me.

I approached them to have a tin on their counter to fundraise for Love Your Sister, but Sandra, the lovely pharmacist wanted to do more. She offered to help me do a fundraiser with them while they give out cake and balloons for Canberra’s 100th birthday. We organised to have a TV screen with Video of Sam running the whole time, and I had heaps of merchandise to sell, while The Capital Chemist gave out cake and balloons.

I was so nervous before hand because I didn’t want to be pushing the Love Your Sister cause onto people who didn’t want to hear about it.

It turned out I had no reason to be nervous. The lovely people of Kingston were happy to have some free birthday cake, and balloons for the kids, and while they were eating I talked to them about Love Your Sister. I was delighted that a lot of people had heard of us before, either from Facebook, the Project or The Today Show. A lot of people who didn’t know us were happy to hear about our story. Heaps of people bought merchandise and I got a chance to hear about their experiences with Cancer. Cancer is so insidious, it is just everywhere and it effects everyone in some capacity and I felt privileged to share other peoples journeys.

But there were 2 things that really amazed me:

The staff at Capital Chemist were given a lotto ticket by one of their customers, and it turned out to be a winner. Rather than split it amongst themselves, they decided to donate their winnings to Love Your Sister. Some people think of others before they think of themselves. Their selfless decision really touched my heart. How amazing $1019.30 from the generous staff!

I talked to a lot of people at the fundraiser. One young man who I talked to asked for our details, and ten minutes later he returned with an envelope. I was too nervous to open the envelope on the spot, and in truth, the amount doesn’t matter, it is the thought and the act of giving that counts. I thanked him, and after he left, I opened the envelope and found that he had written a cheque for $1000.00! It is so good to see men getting behind a cause that primarily affects women. But through women it affects men, like my being sick effects my husband and my sons. His generosity really moved me.

Another amazing thing about this fundraiser, was working with the staff of Capital Chemist. Usually they serve me, and make sure that I get the medicine that I need, but this gave me an opportunity to get to know them and I had fun working with them, I really did.

This fundraiser raised $2562.50! And we did it all without Sam, the star of the show. I am so happy that we pulled it together, and that so many people donated, and more importantly we spread the word to so many people, don’t fall into the booby trap - be breast aware, and not only to women, but also to men to pass on to the important women in their lives. What a special day.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Connie's Diary - Ferne Photoshoot

‘Twas the night before launch

And all through the house

Everybody was frantic

Even the dog and a mouse

Ferne Millen Photoshoot

The night before launch chaos had well and truly descended on the house when Ferne, our fabulous photographer and her fearless foetus, came to pay us a visit.

32 weeks pregnant she came by in the middle of the night to photograph some of our last moments together before Samuel departed on his year long journey around the country. We had been spending so much time together in the lead up to launch that it hardly seemed real that we would be saying goodbye the very next day.

It was then that I discovered she would be the photographer hanging out of the chopper to take the photos of launch from the sky! How amazing is that! I would be too scared to attempt such a feat if I were strong and healthy, but the vibrant and energetic, and heavily pregnant Ferne was up for it, and was really excited about capturing these moments so dear to us on film. What an adventurous woman, and how interesting will her child’s upbringing be if this is happening before s/he is even born!

I am so glad that Ferne came around that night. We were all in such a fluster that none of us would have thought to stop and take some photos of our last might together if it wasn’t for her, and now we have these great shots to remember that time together with.

We had about 15 people in the house, on the back porch and in the street, driveway and caravan.

Jon Bon Jonno and Ley Ley where still working on fitting out the van with shelving, securing the unicycles, bikes, the motorbike and all the camping gear with a few helpers.

Friends of theirs were packing their clothes, toothbrushes and razors.

Sarah and Sully had every pot in the house on the stove doing a massive cookup under my fiercely barked insructions. I don’t know how they put up with me, but they did, and together we managed to cook up massive batches of Bolognese, Chilli, Chicken stew and strog to stock the freezer in the caravan.

Nat and Nat were shopping buying all the last minute things the boys would need for their adventure, we had to make sure they had everything from a blender for smoothies to toilet paper. We tried to get everything on the lsit, but the list kept growing as they were shopping!

I was working with Tanya on the boxes to sell the merchandise from. They are the boxes the crews ASICS sneakers came in, covered in pink and black splattered paper and contact. We are a grass roots operation, trying to save money on everything, so no budget for merchandise packaging here, it’s all home made. All the printed materials from Print Design Australia was being assembled and the price posters were all being made.

Em and hilde were working on getting event plans and insurance finalised for councils and insurance companies. Dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s, all in the middle of the night, just hours before launch.

Jamie and Alison were in charge of bubbly and toasts, and I hadn’t written my speech yet……

Sam was mood managing, making sure that only one person was having a nervous breakdown at any given moment.

The van was being packed, as well as the caravan, the fridge and freezer were being stocked and all the merchandise and printed info was being packed. It was absolute mayhem!

Then Ferne walked in and forced us to take a few minutes and spend some time together. It was wonderful. If she hadn’t been there, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to spend that time together and wouldn’t have these wonderful memories. Thanks Ferne – and all the best with Bub.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Connie's Diary - Baby Shower

Penny Van Gelderen and Andrew John, my sister and brother in law, had a baby shower on the weekend. I have never been to a baby shower, so this was very exciting for me. I have only known Penny for 3 years, and though she is my sister in law, she is like a real sister to me. She is fun, outgoing, vibrant and confident and I think she is absolutely fantastic. It is so exciting that we are expecting a little niece or nephew in the next few weeks, and Penny and Andrew will be great parents. Our little niece or nephew will be blessed with parents that love and adore him/her and provide a safe, happy, positive and stimulating environment for her/him. It is so exciting that this couple, who really want a baby, have been able to get pregnant and are close to having their first child. It’s one of those times in life when you think, how great, they deserve to have all the good things in life and I am so glad they are about to get something they have longed for, a brand new addition to the family.

Well, Penny is a very socially responsible person and is motivated by the greater good, so she saw her baby shower as a chance to make a difference, and made her baby shower all about Love Your Sister. She asked her friends and family to donate to the cause instead of giving gifts for her and the baby. I can’t believe how generous and selfless people can be, and Penny and Andrew are yet another example of this generosity that Love Your Sister has been seeing. She painted her nails pink, got little Love Your Sister goody bags ready for everyone and organised a heap of fundraising activities like a coin toss and a raffle. She did an amazing job when she is due in just 2 weeks, and must be feeling very tired and heavy. I wish I could have been there, but it is interstate and I have been travelling so much lately and I am very tired. But I got to skype in and see all the people there to support her and Andrew and have a chat and hear her beautiful speech.

In all, Penny raised over $1600 and I think this is a fabulous example of people getting together with friends, have a fun day, and contributing to a great cause. Penny did all this while the unicyclist was far away, deep in the harsh aussie outback. It goes to show what a ‘community’ or a ‘village’ can do!

Connie's Blog - March 18 Part 1

The Long Weekend in Canberra was dedicated to celebrating Canberra’s 100th birthday. This was a great opportunity to do some exciting things with my hubby and the boys. We went to the Enlighten Festival and the Canberra Day Fireworks.

The Enlighten Festival is one of the highlights of the year for me. It is a festival held at night, where art is projected onto some of Canberra’s iconic buildings.

This year the National Gallery was lit up with images of Toulouse Lautrec artwork, Old Parliament House was done in amazing bright colours that made it look like a completely different building and Questacon was covered in science themed artwork. It was amazing; we gazed in wonder at the changing art and enjoyed the anticipation of what the building would look like when it changed every few minutes.

We also saw a show at night where 2 hot air balloons went up, tethered so they couldn’t float away, and there was a trapeze hanging from each basket, with artists doing all sorts of elegant and beautiful dances in the air, suspended under these magnificent balloons. It was a sight to behold and the kids stared at them in wonder.

My brother David, with Willoughby, My hubby, Mike with our little Hammy watching the lights and balloons: good thing we had two strong men to hoist the boys up so they could get a good view.

The trapeze artist hanging from the hot air balloon

The next night we went to the birthday party down by the lake, and saw a most amazing fireworks display. The sky was literally alight with a mass of fireworks, I have never seen so many fireworks going off at once. It was absolutely spectacular.

Fireworks are a favourite of mine. Just after I was diagnosed there were some fireworks on and we went to see them and I was sad and contemplative, wondering if it would be the last time I would get to see fireworks with the kids. It wasn’t. I have had the pleasure of seeing quite a few fireworks shows with them since then, and I hope to see quite a few more. 

Friday, 15 March 2013

Connie's Diary - March 15

Because Samuel is in the middle of nowhere, literally, he cannot do his TV commitments at the moment, so little old me got the opportunity to stand in for him on The Project.

It is a really weird thing, doing a cross, you have to look down the camera lense and talk to it like it is a person, but it really doesn’t feel like a conversation, so it is hard to maintain eye contact with a machine. But it was fun and a different experience for me.

Carrie Bickmore and Charlie Pickering are really nice, and very easy to talk to. They are so good at what they do that it made it a bit easier for me. Shame Hughesy doesn’t do Friday nights, one day we will have to do a cross on another night so that I get to talk to him J

Anyway, when Sam saw it he said I did really well, so I was chuffed that the TV guy said I had done a good job.

Here’s the Direct Link!

LYS Diary: Since Adelaide - Connie

A bit of déjà vu occurred when I got home from Adelaide, it was a bit like straight after launch – I was very tired and had to sleep a lot to recover from all the activity and excitement of the preceding days. Since getting back I have been resting a lot, and spending the time that I am up and about with the kids. They are gorgeous as ever and give me a reason to get out of bed every day. I love them and cherish the moments I get with them. Every day is a gift and I appreciate that every time they do something cute or endearing, which they do so often at this age.

So at the moment, it is rest, spend time with kids, rest some more, so a little bit of admin work on  Love Your Sister, then rest some more.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

LYS Diary: Day 20 Wilmington

The good folk of Wilmington did a ripper job of things today! I met with the kiddlies at their primary school and they walked me to their rodeo, where I was promptly put me in a pink tutu, with pink lippy and nail polish to boot. And that was just the entree! Thankfully, they had selected a steer for me to attempt to ride, as opposed to a bull. Even so, it was quite frightening at first, but adrenaline soon kicked in and after my first ride, I was begging for more. Luckily they had brought three steers with them! 

I was then encouraged to go along to their bowling club to ‘relax’. It sounded like fun after a long day. Little did I know that they had concocted a secret ‘bush-tucker challenge’ for me…to eat a live huntsman. I thought they were joking, until Geoff there pulled out a jar full of them. Now I’m seriously arachnophobic. Not just a little scared of spiders; a lot scared of them. It stems back to a childhood trauma, as most phobias do. I tried to get into the spirit of it, but I could barely hold the damn thing, let alone crunch away at it. But it was for a donation to the cause, and I’m the silly one who asked towns to dare me, so there was nothing to do but push on, chew it and swallow. It was one of the most traumatic things I’ve ever been involved in, but afterwards I felt strangely liberated. As if I could do anything! No wonder…I had just conquered one of my biggest fears in one of the biggest ways possible. Thank you Wilmington for helping me rid myself of the ‘city-boy’ tag!

Disclaimer : This is the last time I’ll eat anything alive. No similar challenges will be entered into hereforth!

Friday, 8 March 2013

LYS Diary: Day 16

The Clare Valley has to be one of the most picturesque parts of the trip I’ve seen to date. Whilst my body doesn’t necessarily appreciate the beauty of the Valley’s breath-taking undulations, they did provide a willing distraction for my mind!

Emily and Heather turned on a treat in Clare. The main drag was splashed in pink and we had a bumper cocktail function at Wild Saffron Cafe. I had nothing in the tank, but everybody there lifted my energy and spirits. I was an auctioneer for the first time too - what a buzz. Very tough though, at the same time! It’s hard for me to work without a script because I bloody rabbit on…in any case, the Clare locals were most patient, engaging and enthusiastic about the cause. It was kind of strange finding such a cosmopolitan scene there. A great mix of country-types and wine officianado’s. A beautiful and interesting place to visit.

Special thanks to David and Michael from Thorn Park, By The Vines, who put us up in the most splendid luxury at their bed and breakfast. They cooked us the finest grub and treated us like kings. Coming from the caravan (which we do genuinely love living in) to their palatial grounds was a shock to the system, in the best way. I slept like a frog.

In the morning I popped into A.C. Podiatry before peddling off. Abbe and Lauren did my toenails pink and donated 350 big ones. Definitely the easiest challenge to date! 

Very tired, must sleep…

Thursday, 7 March 2013

LYS Announcement!

Wow it’s been a mad 2 weeks!

I’m going to be calling in to The Project tonight (Thursday 7th) at 6:30pm to tell you guys how I’m going (besides the blogs of course).

Tune in!


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

LYS Diary: Day 12 & 13 in RADelaide

Mix 102.3’s Jodie, Mark and Snowy provided me and sis with a pretty unforgettable chat, during mine and Connie’s PR whirlwind over two days in Radelaide.

One thing you don’t expect on the usual publicity round is to get emotional. But I ‘spose LYS isn’t that usual!? There’s an emphasis, particularly on FM radio, for the light-hearted and irreverent, and you never expect to get too in-depth in a few minutes on morning radio.

Jodie, Mark and Snowy just went straight there though, with startling precision. They asked us first, we said we were open and then Jodie asked CJ about the kids. It’s pretty hard not to wilt at that point.

We had a great chatski and when CJ and I reflected on it a couple of days later (after we’d recovered!), we agreed that it was a positive thing that they confronted the issue instead of skitting furtively past it. In the subsequent days in Radelaide there were so many people who came and chatted with us and donated, off the back of hearing that interview, it was overwhelming.

So kudos to Mix, for sure, for having morning hosts keen to get to the heart of a matter… 

Mel van Deventer, from Deventer PR opened up her and her sister’s house to us during our trip. She sorted some great media opps, got us into the Garden of Unearthly Delights and the Clipsal 500 for fundraising, got us around in just about the coolest mobile I’ve ever sat in, helped Connie with the mega cook-up, etc, etc.

She attacks life with all the vigour you could hope for and was eternally positive. I was getting a bit too close to the bi-polar bear when I arrived in Radelaide. I was out of sorts to say the least, and Mel took everything in her stride. I hope she sees me in a better frame of mind when I next pass through. It was a culture shock going from the country roads and towns to the hectic pace of the city. I’ll be more prepared for it next time.

Finally, an example of an individual who just goes that extra million miles. Lil Miss Macaron spent serious time and effort into creating a true macaron heaven in Hindmarsh square. My only regret is that I wasn’t there for the whole day. We met some fab people, but it was the industry and heart shown by lil miss macaron, buggyboo girl and Bella’s fella that really got to us.

Well ove 4,000 fat ones were raised, but it was the raising of all of our spirits that meant the most. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Hope you’re reading this guys. xx

Saturday, 2 March 2013

LYS Diary: Adelaide March 2 - Connie

I have been feeling a bit weird since launch. Sam and I have been working on this for nearly 2 years but I think part of me thought it wasn’t going to end up happening, but our dream is now coming true and what that means, is that Sam is going to be a long way away from us, and for a long time too.

(More photos of us at the photo shoot. Little more serious this time…)

Launch went well, the ride is going to so well, we are raising money and we are spreading the word it is all going exactly as we planned, better even. But there is a small part of me that is sad. I am missing Sam and I feel like I am less connected with Love Your Sister now that he is out on the road and I am at home.

(The other sister - sitting on the throne in Hahndorf)

We met some really amazing people. And I got to see Samuel again.  I also got a little look into what life on the road is like for him, Jon Bon Jonno and Ley Ley.

But Adelaide comes along before I know it and I get to see him again. Awesome. 

Friday, 1 March 2013

Connie's Diary: March 1

Got up at the crack of dawn again, and drove to MMM carbq (a bbq conducted from the back of a car) but I fell asleep in the car on the way, and my considerate brother thought I must need the shut eye and let me keep sleeping while he did the MMM interview. I woke up just as they were finishing and we were ready to head off to the next one, with Michael Hayley, and Burgo on SAFM which was a lot of fun, and I was a lot more awake for!

Then busy busy busy, over to the Clipsal 500 – it is all happening in Adelaide, with the Fringe Festival and the Clipsal 500 it is pretty busy! Wow, again I have been blown over by peoples generosity. Gino, from Reo Beam Concrete has decked out their corporate box in Love Your Sister madness!

He had T-shirts made, table clothes printed, pink decorations on all the walls, signage for the walls and he had stickers printed for the V8 supercars, so not only did we have access to a Love Your Sister Box, but a lot of the cars had LYS branding on them too. Gino was so dedicated and gave a lot of time and resources to fundraising for LYS. He raised more than $2100 from his fundraising efforts in his box while the Clipsal was on. Thanks heaps Gino! What a great guy!

This was my first experience of car racing, I had never been to a race of any description before, V8s, motorbikes, formula 1, nothing. It was quite a sight, and sound! I had to leave the Clipsal, reluctantly, in order to go back to Jody’s place to cook up some food for the boys to take with them on the road.

Cooking takes on whole new proportions when cooking for the boys. All of the food we cooked 2 weeks earlier and frozen for them to take with them has been eaten, so it was time to restock. We had 3 slow cookers, the biggest wok you have ever seen and 3 massive pots all going at once to cook up enough food to get them through the next few weeks. You can see the proportions of the cook up on the LYS you tube channel, in Love Your Cook-up. If it isn’t up yet, it will be soon.

No sooner did we have all the food on the stove, than we had to pack up and go again, this time for a live cross from the project. This was my second live cross in as many days, and it doesn’t get any easier, it is so hard to look down the camera and not see the people you are talking to! I hope we don’t look like a pair of fools on the tele!

After an exhausting few days I had a quick chat with Mel and another pat and hang out with her beautiful chocky Labrador, Barney, before collapsing into bed.

Leaving, mixed feelings all over again