Carolyn Parsons was a good friend and inspiration to many and a wonderful example of someone who ‘kept the spirit alive’. Following her breast cancer diagnosis she managed to ‘get off the tit and on with life’ (her words) and in doing so gave back so much to others.
First diagnosed in February 2005, Carolyn joined DA ACT in early 2006. Dragon boating appealed as she was keen on both the fitness and friendship aspects it offered. Her illness led her to review her priorities in life and she had a strong need to ‘give back’ in some way. She discovered the Amazon Heart Odyssey and in 2006 organised a number of functions to raise awareness and much needed funds for the program. In December, she traveled with Amazon Heart to build cottages for orphans in an Indian village. It was on this trip that Carolyn developed a cough which she had investigated on her return to Australia, and in February 2007 she was diagnosed with a rare secondary lung cancer. Reluctantly, she resigned from her job at the Australian National Botanic Gardens and moved ‘home’ to Hobart to live with her sister Anne and her family.
Throughout her ongoing treatments, Carolyn continued to work as a very active and articulate advocate for young women with breast cancer. She willingly shared her story so that others would learn from it. Her advice was if you have a cough have it checked out, even if your GP is blasé about it. With a great sense of humour and down to earth approach (do you remember having to stand on your big toes for good luck?) Carolyn made many friends and was great company. Despite deteriorating health and side effects from aggressive treatments, she actively kept up with friends around Australia, traveling from Hobart to Sydney and Canberra a number of times in 2007 to drum for DA ACT, catch up with Amazon Heart friends at Darling Harbour and take part in the Field of Women Live!
Carolyn Parson and friends from DA ACT with the friendship quilt they made and presented to her at a farewell dinner before she moved home to Hobart Carolyn was determined she wasn’t going to miss Abreast in Australia so bravely flew up to Caloundra where she shared a room with Susi Gross and came out to watch us compete each day. She even managed to get on our boat for the Flowers on the water ceremony at the end of the regatta.
Carolyn died peacefully in Hobart with her family on 18 April 2008 aged 42 years. We will miss her!