Julie Harris, Ricky McNaughton and Sandra Birch were among the organisers of the Biggest Morning Tea at the Leongatha RSL last week. N022117

Mae Riseley, Rosa Sinopoli from Mountain View Retirement Village and Zel Fawcett at the Biggest Morning Tea event in Leongatha. N032117

HALEY Anderson was an amazing sportsperson. From a young age, with bat or a ball, she was a star.
She grew up in Leongatha and went on to become a teacher at the Korumburra Primary School where she inspired students to reach their goals.
Not much could beat Haley, but she couldn’t get past ovarian cancer after her diagnosis in March last year.
Haley’s fiancée Laurie Bier was the guest speaker at the Leongatha RSL’s Biggest Morning Tea event organised by Ricky McNaughton on Thursday.
At the event, Laurie touched on the 12 months that followed.
“It’s not a nice cancer and there’s not much you can do to stop it. You can wear a hat and suncreen to protect yourself from skin cancer; you can choose not to smoke to reduce your risk of lung cancer, and you can drink less and reduce your risk of liver cancer.
“But often with ovarian cancer, by the time you first find out, it’s often too late.”
She said that during the treatment, there was a lot of time spent in hospital, not doing much.
Laurie learned to crochet, and produced a blanket with 42 squares representing the seven sessions of chemo therapy at six hours each.
“Haley had numerous surgeries to remove bits and pieces. There were blood clots. She needed lots of care.
“You put your life on hold.”
But Laurie said there were good times.
“There were days when the disease just doesn’t matter, and one of those days was when she was able to play netball (for her beloved Mirboo North). She was not a cancer patient; she was a person playing netball like everyone else.
“She didn’t want to let the disease define her.
“We were lucky that she wasn’t bed ridden for a long time.
“Between chemo and surgery, she was well and quite healthy.”
Haley was temporarily given the all clear in October, but the cancer came back hard and by March, she was gone.
“We were lucky in a way. We don’t have any what-ifs. We couldn’t have changed anything,” Laurie said.
Now the hope is for more funding for research.
“The State Government has committed $78 million to help people with substance abuse, but medical research is getting just $34 million.
“It’s up to us to make up the shortfall.”
The Mirboo North netballers have held Headbands 4 Haley events, while the RSL morning tea and another event at the club raised close to $3000.
Laurie is having her own Biggest Afternoon Tea on Sunday, May 28 at her place, 225 Old Korumburra Road at 3.30pm.
“Just bring cash,” Laurie said. “I’ll have enough scone dough to cater for as many people who turn up!”
Laurie has already raised $12,000 through various fundraisers and is determined to continue.
“Every cuppa counts,” she said.