Over the tranquility of the Parkes Aquatic Centre on Thursday morning, there was the sound of arms hitting the water from a lap swimmer. Then a cheer breaks the silence from three supporters.
At 10.30am that morning Parkes woman Suzie Hill finished her 600th lap of the pool, her last stint of 30 laps (three kilometres) done over 25 days.
The total distance was 30km, a commitment the 38-year-old made to raise funds and awareness for Legs Out for Lymphoma, a fundraiser during March for the blood cancer charity Lymphoma Australia.
In a fitting way to mark the moment, her mother Cathy Billiards from the Blue Mountains travelled to Parkes and walked her last 6.72km of 100km from Suzie’s home in Parkes to the pool to see her finish.
Cathy too – like the rest of their family – had been clocking up kilometres for the cause. Her biggest was an 80km trek from Bondi to Manly with husband and Suzie’s dad Robert.
Legs Out for Lymphoma is about participants getting their legs out their way by walking, running, cycling, swimming or even star jumping.
Lymphoma is Australia’s number one blood cancer, where every two hours another Australian is diagnosed and every six a life is lost to the illness.
The charity’s goal is to fund Lymphoma Care Nurses across Australia and unite together in the fight against lymphoma.
Suzie, who used to swim as a teenager, is a radiographer and has been in Parkes since 2014. She admitted her 600-lap challenge has been tough.
“It’s the mental commitment but it’s the physical too. It [had me not thinking] and just focusing on my muscles,” she said.
“There’s been days where my shoulders have been aching… But it’s done me the world of good – mentally and physically.”
Close friend Janelle Goodsell has been joining Suzie in swimming some kilometres alongside of her in support, which Suzie said “has been the best”.
“To be honest I don’t think I would have done it without her,” she said.
“There are days where you feel like you’re doing it alone and it’s the same when you’re sick.
“It (the swim) has helped me to be empathetic, I know it’s not the same but no one else can swim for me if I’ve committed to doing it.”
Cathy added there were days where they didn’t feel like going out for a walk or swim, or were feeling too sore.
“But we have to keep going, people with cancer don’t get to choose to go to their chemo treatments when they don’t feel like it,” she said.
Suzie and her family chose to take part in the fundraiser as a group, named The Js, all for younger sister Joanne Cox who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last May.
Joanne, who’s 36 and now lives in Katoomba, was living in Tasmania when she found a lump on her throat. She was diagnosed with the cancer by the end of the week.
Cathy flew down to be with her daughter during the height of Covid in Australia and they walked five kilometres everyday.
“She said to me ‘you’re going to get me up and we’re going to walk five kilometres everyday – I’m not going to let this beat me’,” Cathy said.
“With this cancer, there’s no link to family history, we have a very good family history and Jo’s very healthy and young,” Suzie added.
“It’s a cancer young people get.”
Joanne finished chemotherapy in December and she has been swimming, running and cycling to raise funds for the charity too, as well as her two children who are doing as much riding as possible. On Thursday Joanne had 25km left of her 100km goal.
The entire distance the family is covering is about 750km until the end of the month and initially they aimed to raise $750, which quickly became $1500.
“I have to say we’re a determined family,” Suzie said.
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