A tale of two mothers
With its many varied, vicious, and insidious forms, if you're reading this, the chances are you've in some way been affected by Cancer.
Personally, my beef with "The Big C" started not long after I was born, with the agonizingly premature departure of my mother Julie. Mum’s symptoms surfaced gradually, namely a difficulty swallowing food. In the first few months of 1987 numerous scans yielded some ominous results and by march of that year, the doctors had found the culprit of my mother's discomfort. Cancer.
The prognosis was about as bleak as you could get, and the medical options were limited to the knowledge and technologies available during the mid-80s. Despite a positive disposition and the adoption of various alternative medicines, Julie’s health slowly but surely declined. In October 1987, a few months after my first birthday, Julie passed away, leaving behind my father Rudy, older sister Sonia, and a little baby me.
Whilst I might be void of any conscious memories of mum, I’m still enriched with the stories and tales of her character, through the various friends and family that had the pleasure of sharing her company. If I am my father’s son, then Sonia is most definitely her mother’s daughter. This not only gives me insight into Julie, but also comfort. It’s been a pleasure growing older with Sonia, and a blessing to witness her evolution into a sterling version of mum.
At 35 years of age, there’s not a lot I wouldn’t give for just 5 minutes with my mother. Just to meet her, tell her about my life, to share a joke, to reveal my hopes and dreams. Anything. Mostly, I would tell her that I’ve had a good life. The goodest one could ever hope to have. I’ve loved fiercely and am loved ferociously in return. I’m surrounded by friends that I feel honored to have. I’m grounded, I’m fluid, and just genuinely so privileged to be here.
A close work friend of my mothers, and even closer family friend to the Starosta’s after her passing, Betty quickly became a guardian of Sonia and I, as a loving relationship ensued between her and Dad.
My earliest recollections as a toddler featured a very loving family unit. To me it felt complete.
In truth, Betty never wanted kids, but the love she had for dad spread contagiously to Sonia and I and following their marriage Betty found herself as the matriarch of our little clan.
If you’d have asked her, I’m sure Betty would been hesitant to consider herself a natural motherly figure, but in her own unique and beautiful way, she was. Perfectly so in fact. Betty cradled the line between friend and nurturer. A prankster and teacher. There was a severe sort of strength behind her discipline, and an impeccable wit laced within her humor. Betty had more than my love, she had my respect, earned valiantly during an adventurous family life together spanning nearly 20 years.
If you’re wondering why I’m referring to Betty in a past tense, it is because she is sadly no longer with us. Betty retired from work at 56, was diagnosed with lung cancer at 57, and passed away at 58. Once again, the hungry and indiscriminate jaws of cancer had taken a bite out of my life, but this time I laid witness to its cruel workings. Initial treatment for Betty’s cancer was promising. The large shady areas on her lungs indicating the presence of tumors were subsiding. Without pause for celebrations the tumors resurfaced in her throat, then finally her brain. Every little victory was met with another more deadly complication, and emotions were locked in a seesaw between forlorn and frustration. Betty’s sharp and lively mind was trapped in a body that was eating itself alive, and she knew it.
One of the many typically radical parental decisions Betty made was in the form of a haircut, or rather hair style. Mine in fact. At age 17 my fluffy and unruly mop began the natural process of matting itself, Sideshow Bob style. Not to let a good thing go to waste, Betty chaperoned me to a traditional African hair stylists, where 3 very authentic ladies worked tirelessly on my fuzzy dome for hours, eventually unveiling the legitimate beginnings of dreadlocks. If you had told me back then that I’d don this hair for another 18 years, I’d have probably slapped you. Alas here I am, afore mentioned hair down to my knees, announcing the symbolic removal of the rope I’ve dragged around for over half my life. Some say that our hair can hold our memories. I’m not sure if that’s true, but I sure am glad they can’t talk, or else I’d no doubt have some explaining to do.
I’m fundraising for Cancer Council Victoria to help stop cancer.
Every year more than 35,000 Victorians hear the words ‘you have cancer’.
Thanks in part to generous Victorians, 7 in 10 of them will survive five years after a cancer diagnosis, but there’s still so much work to be done.
Cancer Council needs our support more than ever this year. Every dollar raised gives hope for a cancer free future. By supporting my walk, you’re funding life-saving cancer treatments, prevention programs, and support services that ensure no one has to face cancer alone.
Reached fundraising goal
Increased fundraising goal
Thank you to my Supporters
Lost my Dad to cancer in ‘87. Still miss him every day. Great work from you, Tony.
Tony you are amazing! Proud of you xox
Well done my son.. by another mother.🙏❤️.. 🥰❤️💋🙏👍🏼
No need to post any dreads Tony ;)
Russ & Helen Wuersching
Good luck xx
Mind blown. Amazing work.
Wheels And The Face
Shirtless!!! What an amazing and hopefully life changing thing you have done. Much love always the Wheel- Falvs
Happy to support a great fundraiser
Amazing job! Nice meeting you at Adil’s cafe.
Fiona & Cliff Goulding
Nice work Tony
Dear Tony Both your Mum and Betty would be so proud of you Well done. It’s such a great cause, so much has been achieved with cancer research but still so much more to do. What you and Sonia are doing is terrific and very brave. Love you both The Fishburns xxx
Melbourne Espresso Services
It’s about time! Glad it’s for a good cause.
Hurry up already
Big day and great cause!!! You’ll look amazing:)x
Proud of you tony and Can’t wait to see the new look.
Jessica & Frank
Congratulations Tony for all your fund raising work. We are very excited to see you on the other side!
Congratulations Tony, and thank yoy for being so proactive with raising funds! My family knows all too well the pain you have described, and I can only hope that your efforts positively help many families in the years to come.
What incredible heart and wisdom you have - stunning legacy of both your mums shining through you ?
You’re one of the kindest people I know and your story was incredible. Long live the dreads!
Great effort Tony
Andrew Van Leeuwen
Gonna miss the dreads, T! But good work for a good cause.
All the very best Tony.
Congratulations on this wonderful cause!
Great job, I have lost 3 wonderful people in my immediate family, it’s a disease that needs stomping out. Thank you for your efforts ❤️
This is such an incredible thing you are doing! So proud of you! If those dreads could talk!! Well done and good luck. Bye bye dreads. Much love. Xx
D La Manna
Good on you mate ??
What a great cause and fantastic way to honour your two mothers:. Good luck with the chop!
You’re a good kid
Tony, thank you for sharing your personal story and doing what you can to raise money and awareness for such a great cause. Without knowing them, or you for that matter - but being a Mother myself, I am sure both Julie and Betty are very proud of you.
Well done Levendi. ?
Love you cuz
Go you good thing ❤️
Amazing stuff mate - and very well said.
Stu, Jen And Maisie
Love you lots xx
Congratulations on getting over half way!! Such a good cause xox
Baba Ghanouch & Rara
Can not wait for frizzy hair to be back! Love you! The big guy.x
Finally!! But great cause mate lost a few family members to cancer…..
End of an era! Good on you doing something for a good cause! Love freya (corr)
Well done Tony. You are a great person. I consider myself lucky to call you a friend
Beautiful Tony.Good on you!
Thanks for all your support over the years - here's a little in return
Josie Di Salvo
I know this means a lot to you, you got this! Brave step by a brave warrior xo
Lonie And James
Good job Darl xx
'Dreaded Chop' - I'd pay to see that! Super cool initiative Tony.
Tre Coffee Co.
Well done Tony ?? Great cause and even better support person for our business! Thank you
Griffiths Bros Coffee Roasters
Hey Tony, as a valued member of our team we are super happy to be able to support a great new look for a good cause. Looking forward to seeing your summer buzz cut and you reach your fundraising goals. All the best - your Griffiths Bros family
After reading your heart warming and eloquent feelings about your life and recognition of your two mothers, I realized my job is done. I’m so proud of you.
Celebrating fond memories
An inspiration you are T, and a great cause that affects way too many people we care about ❤️
Inspirational story Tony. Losing your Mum at any age is earth shattering.
No more seagulls landing in your hair
Inspiring story, Tony. Good luck with the chop!
Dear Tony, A great effort by a special person. Regards Sue and Michael
Hi Tony- Great cause and a brave move having such a drastic trim.
Geoff & Pamela Wuersching
Hi Tony. What a lovely idea for a fundraiser. We are very proud of you. we will hardly recognize you at Christmas lunch without all that hair! ! Love to you both. Geoff & Pam
Well done Tony, what a great way to raise funds for a worthy cause
Good luck Tony
Hi Tony, Thanks for sharing your story and well written by the way! Good luck with achieving 10K! Remo
Austen Family Austen
Woolly and Leon xx
Great cause. I hope you invested in a beanie.
Julia & D James
You are a beautiful soul Tony. Much love J & D xxxxxxx
Suze & Trev
I am your number one fan!! Great stuff mate
What an effort! I can barely remember you without your dreads and Nick has never seen you without them! Let’s hope we can kick The Big C in the arse!
Anthony & Hels
Good luck. Brother
Well.. my dearest Piddy…. I am bereft of the usually finely tuned and artistically strung adjectives I would normally produce to acknowledge such an historic event as this. Speechless. You finally grew more than the hair me Laddo!! Never thought I’d see the day. Knowing your inspirational, generous and deeply heartfelt motivation behind this decision, makes it all the more enjoyable to support you. We shall miss your 10kg spaghetti…. but look forward to the awesome future Fro with ‘growing’ anticipation. Loved the pics… they brought back some of the ‘awesomest’ memoirs. Xxx ‘To the goodest life!!’ Love Unfailing and Always Knubbz
Pat & Suz Mcconchie
You’re an inspiration, Tony. Good on you for what you’re doing mate. Cheering you on. Rob
Cyd Camilla Blair
This is, in my opinion, one of the very few good reasons to cut your hair. Hope you make a bunch of money x
Congratulations on an important and heartfelt initiative, what a great human. Sally
Good on you mate. This is such an important cause.
Love heart eyes emoji for you
Amazing Tony!! Good luck ?
Tony, What an inspiring and moving story to the two significant women in your life. Best wishes Barry and team at La Marzocco