REAL FRIENDS: Gympie people have rallied around to help Michelle Connell (third from left) in her battle with cancer, including Gordon Owen, Michelle Munn, husband Wayne, Murray Benton and Marlene Owen.
REAL FRIENDS: Gympie people have rallied around to help Michelle Connell (third from left) in her battle with cancer, including Gordon Owen, Michelle Munn, husband Wayne, Murray Benton and Marlene Owen. Renee Albrecht

Town rallies to help cancer sufferer buy $130k medicine

GYMPIE people do not seem able to let their friends suffer alone.

That has been the experience of Michelle and Wayne Connell, as cancer sufferer Michelle fights for her life, with the help of a drug so expensive, the Connells have been forced to sell off assets and seek the help of friends.

Fortunately, they have plenty of those - more than they probably realised.

"Gympie is such a wonderful place," Michelle said yesterday as she struggled to express her gratitude.

The courageous couple faces a challenge that takes more than courage, though it does require plenty of that.

It also costs an impossible $130,000 a year for the only thing that works - a super-expensive medicine called vemurafenib.

Then came her old friend and tireless cancer fund-raiser Marlene Owen, who announced that this year's cancer ball will be donating half its proceeds to the Connells to support their fight for survival.

Then came even more good news, from Donna Ferguson of the Victory Hotel, organiser of Gympie's Official Pub Crawl on May 28. She has pledged a big donation from the pub crawl.

Mrs Owen, a driving force behind the medical support group Supporting Chemotherapy in Cooloola, says half the surplus from this year's SCIC and Hotondo Homes Gympie Gala Charity Ball, will back the Connells.

The ball has been known to raise up to $50,000 and Mrs Owen says there is already plenty of interest, with tables going fast for the July 23 event (even before they officially go on sale). "People are already ringing up and asking us to keep a table for them," she said.

It is not a bad start considering tickets do not go on sale until May 25.

The ball, Into the Depths, helps people cope with the most distressing journey of their lives, Mrs Owen says.

The ball, at Gympie Civic Centre will feature entertainment by John Morrison's All Stars six-piece Sydney band, featuring Jacki Cooper and supported by local band Livewire.

The night will also feature major and silent auctions and a raffle with a major prize of a $1000 travel voucher from Easy Travel and Cruise, Gympie.

At $100 a head, the tickets will be available from Innovations Hair and Beauty on 5482 8300.

But the battle is far from won for Michelle and anyone wanting to help can donate via the website sickortreat.org.au/campaign/2029/helpingmichelle

Gympie Times


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