University of Wollongong employee Kelly O'Connor was fit and healthy when she went to the doctor last December for a routine check-up following an indigestion complaint.
The 39-year-old wasn't expecting to hear the words: "You have stomach cancer."
She would need extensive surgery and two rounds of chemotherapy treatment.
The administrative assistant at UOW's Campus East had only been in Australia since October 2011 and most of her support base was back home in England.
Then something surprising and overwhelmingly positive happened to Ms O'Connor.
Her colleagues and some of the students, living on Campus East, banded together and began quietly fund-raising for cancer support projects.
They formed "Team Kelly" and signed up for the Illawarra Relay for Life at Beaton Park Leisure Centre on September 21 and 22.
"I was overwhelmed by their support," Ms O'Connor said.
"I knew they were working together, but I didn't realise at first the efforts they had gone to to raise so much money."
Matt Dowling, team leader and a student at UOW, said the group had already raised $7000.
"When we heard that Kelly had been diagnosed with stomach cancer, a group of us really wanted to show our support," he said.
"We have a big team registered for Illawarra Relay For Life and have already done a lot of fund-raising, including an old-fashioned bake sale and a pyjama day on campus."
Ms O'Connor has finished chemotherapy and was recently given a clean bill of health for the next three months. She has been moved by the support of Campus East students and staff.
"I have been hugely touched by the actions of my colleagues and friends," Ms O'Connor said.
"It's not until you're diagnosed that you realise how much support is out there."
Funds raised by Illawarra Relay for Life help to establish and maintain vital support services to help those living with cancer in the region.
Some of the funds are also used by Cancer Council NSW to fund a number of important cancer research projects.
Anyone interested in participating in the event can contact the Cancer Council office on 4223 0200 or visit relayforlife.com.au.