As an unsworn officer of Wollongong Local Area Command, Rima Elhage is used to seeing her colleagues put their lives on the line.
So it seemed particularly cruel when cancer came to the command, last year. With another two Wollongong officers since diagnosed, Ms Elhage is more convinced than ever that there is no justice when it comes to cancer.
“Cancer’s something you can't charge or throw in front of a court. You can’t catch this bad guy – it’s a different type of life-threatening,” said Ms Elhage, a multicultural liason officer with Wollongong Police.
“The fact that they [colleagues undergoing treatment] can come in and do their normal work day, and then have that personal fight, is something quite amazing.
“Obviously the treatment affects their ability to be at work, but when they can be here, they’re here.
On the eve of Saturday night’s Stars of Wollongong Dance for Cancer performance, Ms Elhage – a contestant and the event’s biggest fundraiser – has her ill colleagues front of mind.
She and her team of police force supporters have hosted multiple events including a Bunnings barbecue, fundraiser lunch and an awareness-raising display in Wollongong mall, raking in more than $18,000 of the $103,000 raised for the Cancer Council so far.
“I’ve gone to some of the other [contestants’] fundraising events because we’re all actually working for the same goal,” Ms Elhage said.
“It doesn’t matter who raises what. At the end of the day it's going into one big pool and it's going to the Cancer Council.”
With professional male dance partners again proving difficult for event organisers to muster, Ms Elhage has been paired with a female partner, former Dragons cheerleader Alex McKeon.
She remains tight-lipped about her routine, but says it will “relate to my work” and her reputation as a bling-loving princess.
“Because I’m dancing with a girl it was harder to come up with an idea," she said.
“With a guy, you just assume that he’s going to twirl you around the dance floor and you shimmy along and you’re done. We had to think of a routine and a story, a bit of a skit. I just want to get up there and have fun.”
The Mercury’s own Andrew Pearson is among the 14 Wollongong identities taking part on Saturday night. Fundraising continues on the event’s website.