With love and Butterfly Kisses

Relay for Life team, Butterfly Kisses’ (back from left) Macy Poke, Kelli and Ebony Popowski, Amanda Poke, (front) Ellie Poke and Rylee Popowski have several fundraising events underway in the lead up to next year’s biennial walk. Picture: Ashleigh Force. 

Hope. Amanda Poke’s life will always be under threat from cancer, and she is doing all she can to help fight the disease so that others may not endure the same.

Amanda’s journey began in July last year when she discovered a lump in her throat.

“It took a while to find out that is was cancer,” she said, as it was November before the lump was removed.

“I had to go back three weeks later to have the rest of the thyroid taken out.”

From there Amanda underwent radioactive iodine therapy in March.

“It’s a bit different to chemo, you swallow a little radiation tablet that works from the inside out, targeting thyroid cells,” she said.

“I had to be in isolation by myself for three days, because of the radiation you are actually radioactive and you emit radiation because it’s so strong. So you’re in a lead-lined room, they bring you food, drop it on the table and run.”

“I’m without a thyroid now, so I’ll be on thyroid medication for life.”

Amanda’s battle will also continue because of the high recurrence rate of the cancer.

“It’s still a journey . . . thyroid cancer, my type, is something that I will never get the all clear from so they check regularly, for life.”

But even with this prospect, Amanda is in high spirits and challenging herself to lessen the burden of cancer in others’ lives by participating and fundraising for next year’s biennial Relay For Life.

Family friend Kelli Popowski has been by Amanda’s side since the beginning.

“We were travelling to Launceston for Amanda’s appointment with the surgeon after she had been informed it was cancer and Bronwyn House and I suggested we do a Relay for Life team,” Kelli said.

Amanda was hesitant at the start, having not participated since the first Smithton event held in 2008.

“I hadn’t been since my mum died,” said Amanda, whose mother Donna Beeton was killed in a car accident in February 2009.

“The first time I went with my mum . . . She was marching and we did the candle lighting ceremony for her dad – my pop (Alf Beeton) – who had just passed away from lung cancer in 2005.

“I guess this is me trying to be brave again.”

Amanda said through her treatment and talking to her surgeon, she was “really amazed” by how much research and money is involved in the fight against cancer. Knowing that her fundraising could help is what gave her the push she needed to become involved again.

With strong support from her extended family and friends, Amanda’s inspiration for her Relay team’s name came from two unlikely sources: her mother and her cancer.

Donna adored butterflies and since her passing, Amanda has felt her mother’s presence many times in the form of the beautiful insects.

“During my cancer journey I have had many of what I lovingly refer to as my butterfly kisses from heaven, like a hug from my mum.

“Not long after her tragic passing . . . we were driving along, there were white butterflies everywhere on the sides of the road [and] I was reminded that although she was gone, her mother’s love would always be with me.”

Butterfly Kisses also represents Amanda’s cancer.

“The thyroid is shaped like a butterfly, they call it the butterfly gland,” Amanda said.

“We threw a few names around for Butterfly Kisses,” Kelli said. “I think [it represents] love and support.”

With the goal of $1000 in mind, Butterfly Kisses set to work fundraising but soon raised $1500 by hosting jewellery parties through Lily Anne Designs and fondly personalising their lockets ‘Butterfly Bling’.

The team will also host a Butterfly Ball in February and a Butterfly Barbecue one day after church.

Amanda has found support through her church and her Prayer Warriors. “It’s been an awesome support, heaps of encouragement,” she said. “It’s great to receive words of encouragement and prayer when you’re feeling a bit down and flat, and prayers for Ken and the kids as they’ve gone through tough times, but they’ve all been pretty resilient.”

To book a Lily Anne Designs party for Butterfly Kisses, contact Amanda Poke on 0428 645 223.

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