If there’s one thing Alan Fotheringham is famous for, it’s his huge, bushy moustache. So it’s a testament to just how passionate he is about raising money for Cabrini’s day oncology service that he’ll be shaving it off after the Melbourne Marathon.
His son Scott is running the half-marathon with his brother Lewis to raise money in honour of their dad Alan’s heroic battle with cancer.
Just before Christmas last year, Alan was diagnosed with bowel cancer which had spread to the liver and was immediately prescribed aggressive chemotherapy. After his first course and some minor surgery, doctors found the cancer had continued to grow in the liver and had also spread. Alan had to go back for another full round of chemo.
“It was absolutely devastating to hear and face, but it’s absolutely true that the one thing that I thought about which was a little bit of a positive was that I’d go back to Day Oncology and see my friends there,” Alan explains.
“Their cheeriness, their friendship, the way they work amongst themselves and the level of skill that society underestimates, they have heaps of skill, but overall it was their attitude, their support, their friendship was just absolutely critical.
“While it hasn’t been a long journey, it’s the initial shock and the first time you deal with these things, it’s bloody hard and Day Oncology has made my journey tolerable and friendly.”
Scott often accompanies his dad for treatments and completely agrees with his dad’s assessment.
“I think the thing which has stood out for me, is that for a place that you’d think would be quite a sad, tough place, it’s amazing when you walk in there how happy everyone is and they’re so warm and there’s always laughing and just how friendly they all are is what’s stood out,” he says, smiling.
As a result, when Scott started thinking about preparing for and running a marathon during his time off from university after finishing his degree, he thought there would be no better way to say thanks to the staff at Day Oncology than to fundraise for them in Alan’s name. But in a twist, he’s making the challenge a family affair.
He set himself fundraising benchmarks, all of which he has achieved after friends and family swamped them with support. If they raised $2,000, Scott agreed to get a trendy haircut for the first time in his life. If they raised $5,000 his mum Sara would let her hair go grey. If they raised $7,500 his brother Lewis would peroxide his hair blonde. And if they raised $10,000, Alan would agree to shave his “Coxy/Boony/Albert Einstein moustache”.
The fundraising effort so far is $11,580, meaning that all the targets, including the moustache removal, will be met.
“There isn’t even a photo of me around without a mo. Scotty has asked me on several occasions whether I’d shave for a particular charity and each time I’ve refused. On this particular occasion he asked if I’d do it for day oncology and I said ‘yeah’,” says Alan, who’s also going to walk the 5km route, along with his wife Sara.
Neither Scott nor Alan can speak highly enough of Alan’s oncologist A/Prof Jeremy Shapiro or the team from Day Oncology and what it means to be fundraising for their department.
“I’ve said to several of them that society underestimates their level of skill but it’s the friendship, it’s the cooperation amongst themselves, they’ve just been incredibly valuable and I think that they’re an unrecognised group with an unrecognised and underestimated skill set but their attitude is just fantastic.”
If you want to support the Fotheringham family’s Melbourne Marathon run, please visit: https://melbournemarathon2018.everydayhero.com/au/run-for-the-farzj-the-campaign-against-cancer-1.