Maura Luxford’s visit to the University of New England last week as part of her fund-raising horseback ride from Kempsey to Melbourne had special significance for her. Her daughter Hannah, whose death from melanoma at the age of 20 prompted her fund-raising program, was a student at UNE.
After Hannah’s death in December 2008, Ms Luxford took to the road to raise awareness of melanoma – a disease that is responsible for 21 per cent of cancers diagnosed in people between the ages of 15 and 25.
“I coped with my grief by getting on a bike,” she said, recalling her ride from her home at Moparrabah (near Kempsey), NSW, to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Peter Mac) in Melbourne where Hannah was cared for. On the way she visited 37 communities and schools in NSW and Victoria, talking about melanoma to more than 7,000 high-school students.
Calling her fund-raising program “ride4acure” and the fund itself the “Hannah Rose Melanoma Research Fund”, she has already raised almost $53,000 for the Melanoma Research Centre at Peter Mac, and aims to raise $150,000 by the end of October this year.
Ms Luxford’s current “ride” – once again from Kempsey to Melbourne – is on horseback via Armidale, Tamworth, Dunedoo, Dubbo, West Wyalong, Narrandera, Tocumwal, Charlton, Bendigo and Kilmore. She is travelling with a team of three horses – one of which is a pack horse. As in her bicycle ride last year, she is taking her multimedia presentation called Mela-What? to schools and communities along the way. “It’s giving kids the power to make choices,” she said.
At UNE, where her sister Dr Yoni Luxford is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Health, Maura Luxford spoke to final-year nursing students and was guest-of-honour at a barbecue organised by students of health-related disciplines at UNE – members of the New England Rural Club for Health Alliance (NERCHA) – to raise money for the Hannah Rose Melanoma Research Fund.
During the barbecue, the Vice-Chancellor of UNE, Professor Jim Barber, welcomed Ms Luxford to UNE, praised her bravery in “turning grief into action”, and presented her with a donation towards the research fund.
Hannah died after her second year of study by distance education for a Bachelor of Livestock Science degree at UNE and a year after being diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Hannah and her family were shocked by the lack of medical knowledge about – and public awareness of – melanoma, and decided that something needed to be done. Her mother’s courageous campaign is providing for that need.
For more information about “ride4acure”, and regular updates on Ms Luxford’s journey, go to: http://ride4acure.com.au/.
Clicking on the image displayed here reveals a photograph of Maura Luxford taken during her visit to UNE.