THE community of Ellenbrook and surrounds will come together next month to celebrate the second annual Mrs Brown’s Ball and the strength and determination of one local woman.
The ball, which is organised by fundraising group The Sparkly Umbrella, chooses one guest of honour each year who has been affected by cancer and chooses where the money raised will go.
Vanessa Hayes will be celebrated for her courage and strength at this year’s ball.
The Vines resident had just been through the trauma of leaving her abusive husband in August 2015 when she found a lump on her breast.
The mother-of-two would spend the next three months in and out of surgery trying to remove the cancer, as well as chemotherapy, before undergoing a double mastectomy.
“I had decided to leave my husband because of domestic abuse and I had been feeling sick; I put it down to stress because of what I was going through but then I found a lump and they confirmed I had cancer,” she said
Five months after her double mastectomy in January 2017, Ms Hayes was told she had early stages of cervical cancer.
“Because I was in the early stages they didn’t recommend a hysterectomy but I wanted to make sure it would never come back, so I made the decision to have it all taken out,” she said.
“I didn’t want to risk it coming back and not being here to watch my two children grow up.”
While undergoing treatment for breast cancer, Ms Hayes said she had gone back to her abusive relationship four times in an attempt to make it work.
She said one day she realised she wanted more, so she decided she was going to leave her husband for good and to fight her cancer and live for herself and her children.
“When I look back now, cancer was a sort of blessing in disguise for me; it was the wake-up call I needed,” she said.
“It made me realise my life was worth more than being treated badly and to fight for the future I could have with my kids.
“I look back now and I don’t know how I got through it. I never thought I was a strong person, but there was a little voice inside me telling me to fight and not give up.”
Ms Hayes is now one year into her remission and is happy and healthy.
She said it was an honour to be asked to be this year’s ambassador of Mrs Brown’s Ball.
“I have a new lease on life. It’s been a very humbling experience,” she said.
“Now I have been through it I would love to give back and make a difference, and there is so much more funding needed for research to make sure other people don’t go through this.
“Cancer is an awful experience. I would not wish chemo on my worst enemy – it strips you bare.
“While I was fighting my cancer, I lost two close friends to it – there are so many facets of cancer research that need support.”
The inaugural Mrs Brown’s Ball was held last year and was started to celebrate resident Tracey Maquire’s mother, Mrs Brown, who died from cancer on St Patrick’s Day two years ago.
Mrs Maguire is the co-founder of The Sparkly Umbrella and started the organisation to raise money for cancer research, honour her mum and support local people touched by cancer.
She said she was looking forward to another successful year after raising $22,000 last year.
“Last year was a great success and we’ve had other smaller events this year that have done really well,” she said.
“I’ve been really overwhelmed with the support from the community and I think my mum would be proud of what we have achieved,” she said.
Mrs Brown’s Ball will be held at The Vines Resort on March 16.
Tickets are $185 and are available from www.facebook.com/TheSparklyUmbrella.