THE CALL for morning tea with a good cause at heart was too good to resist for 150 Yarra Glen residents, who came out in force last week to raise thousands of dollars for cancer research.
The residents and supporters gathered at the Yarra Glen Memorial Hall on Monday 29 June for a Biggest Morning Tea event put on by Marsala Cafe owner Concetta Rizza.
Ms Rizza, who is currently undergoing treatment for colon cancer, told the Mail that the event exceeded her expectations, with $8130 collected by Friday 3 July.
“I couldn’t believe the support,” Ms Rizza said.
At $20 per head for entry, the event drew thousands of dollars for the Cancer Council of Victoria from the get-go, but most of the money came from donations and cash raised through an auction at the event.
Ms Rizza said the idea for the Biggest Morning Tea event was suggested by her daughter, and was her way of giving back to the Cancer Council.
Casey MP Tony Smith made a speech at the event, as did Ms Rizza, who spoke about her own journey with cancer after being diagnosed on 26 September last year.
Yarra Glen Chamber of Commerce president Alex Lagerwey said the day and Ms Rizza’s speech were “outstanding.”
“She gave, I thought, quite a powerful and motivational talk about her battle with cancer and her passion to make efforts to try and rid the world of the scourge of cancer,” Mr Lagerwey said.
Though cancer screening tests may be uncomfortable, such as submitting faecal matter as part of bowel cancer screening, Ms Rizza said people needed to remove the stigma from cancer tests, and to be aware of when to seek medical help.
“We have to really get the message out there to people,” she said.
“Colon cancer and bowel cancers are cancers that are growing rapidly, and we need to stop the stigma attached to the test.”
For those who may have been recently diagnosed with cancer, Ms Rizza said that it was important to keep a positive mindset.
“I’m not in remission – I’m still going through it currently,” she said,
“My cancer is dormant, luckily, but it is still there.
“Whether it’s cancer or any disease, you need to be really positive – from where I started on 26 September last year to now, it’s because of the fact that I believed in myself that I can overcome this. I really do.”
She said the morning tea event and its support, whether through people coming through the doors or through businesses providing food and items to auction, was an example of the community pulling together.
“This is just an amazing community.”
Donations to the Cancer Council of Victoria can still be made at Masala Cafe, 3/38-40 Bell Street, Yarra Glen. Call 9730 1114 for more information.
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