WORK hard, play hard was a phrase Tash Spanjich's late husband Paul would often use.
Last year, the devoted father of three, dedicated Swan Athletic Football Club player and business owner lost his battle with cancer.
Despite the tragedy, his family is continuing to live by his mantra.
‘My children are so young to lose their dad, it’s heartbreaking,’ Mrs Spanjich, of Mt Lawley, said.
‘Paul was tough as guts and the last person you would think this would happen to.’
Mr Spanjich was diagnosed with stage four oesophageal cancer and metastasis to his liver in January 2013 at the age of 43.
After undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy and a relatively new liver radiation treatment, he died 11 months later.
Mrs Spanjich said that after suffering little or no symptoms, Paul’s diagnosis, with a less than five per cent survival rate, was devastating.
‘He had reflux for his whole life, but presented no unusual systems ” early detection, as with so many other forms of cancer, is key,’ she said.
‘More treatment options and research is needed for advanced cancer patients.
‘Providing cancer patients with a higher chance of survival through modernised treatments is something that is also vital in order to prevent any other family from going through such a tragedy.’
With her husband in mind, Mrs Spanjich set out to do just that by participating in The Ride to Conquer Cancer earlier this month and the Run for a Reason.
To date, she has raised more than $60,000 for cancer research.
Mrs Spanjich said the fun events were also a way of reminding her children to play hard.
‘This was my way of making a difference and honouring my husband,’ she said.
‘It was also a way of teaching the kids that there is still some joy to be had in all of this.’