Wollongong's Mother's Day Classic highlights 'strength not surrender'

"Strength not surrender" is the theme for Wollongong's Mother's Day Classic on Sunday, and it's a motto that event ambassador Dr Margaret Gardiner lives by.

First diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2000, Dr Gardiner was devastated when secondary cancer was discovered in her lung and bones three years ago.

But she has drawn strength from her work as the face of the Wollongong run, and her role as the Illawarra ambassador for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

All proceeds from the two-kilometre or five-kilometre run or walk fund the foundation's vital research into the treatment, detection and prevention of the cancer, which kills seven Australian women each day.

"The work of the foundation has given me the courage to live today," Dr Gardiner said.

Charlie Waller, Joe Moerman, Margaret Gardiner, Bonny Aquilera and Tessa McMillan. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Charlie Waller, Joe Moerman, Margaret Gardiner, Bonny Aquilera and Tessa McMillan. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

"When I was diagnosed with secondaries, I had the feeling that I was powerless and cancer had all the control over me.

"But when I start to feel anxious about tomorrow, I focus on all the efforts we made yesterday to fund the research that's being done today.

"Cancer has an Achilles heel and through research we will find it."

Dr Gardiner was the driving force in establishing the Mother's Day Classic in Wollongong, which is now in its 13th year.

"Fourteen years ago a friend ran in a Sydney event to support me while I was undergoing treatment for breast cancer," Dr Gardiner said.

"It gave me such courage that I thought 'we've got to get that run in Wollongong' and so we did.

"Today the run continues to give courage to people in the Illawarra who are going through treatment for breast cancer as it shows that we will continue to forge forward to find a cure."

The course will change this year with Wollongong's Blue Mile set to turn pink with the more than 3000 breast cancer survivors and supporters expected to take part.

Event manager Grant Plecas said the Illawarra community had thrown its support behind the event since its inception.

He expects last Sunday's Color Run will affect the turnout but said the event is on track to raise around $80,000 for breast cancer research.

The run/walk will start at 9am at Stuart Park, with registrations on the day from 7.30-8.30am.

For details, visit mothersdayclassic.com.au

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