For almost 10 years, Cancer Crusaders Auxiliary has epitomised The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) Auxiliaries mission of “one team working towards one goal – making sick kids better.” Since their establishment in October 2013, the Auxiliary has raised over $700,000 in support of children living with cancer.
Ruth Murray is the Treasurer of the Cancer Crusaders Auxiliary. She has been involved with the Auxiliaries for 23 years having initially joined as a member of Cancer in Kids Auxiliary (CIKA) in 2000.
In 2013 Ruth, alongside her husband Peter and friend Sharron Markovic, established the Cancer Crusaders Auxiliary. As their name suggests, the Auxiliary is passionate about fundraising for cancer – more specifically brain cancer research.
“I always describe Cancer Crusaders as a small, caring and community minded group. Each of our 12 members are lucky to have healthy kids, and while we are fortunate in this respect, you never know what is around the corner. That is why we’re passionate about supporting the RCH – we know we have this world class hospital on our doorstep that does incredible things but requires philanthropy to continue providing the amazing level of care they do,” said Ruth.
“As we say, we’re here to fund the fight against childhood cancers, which is also why our logo is a lion – it represents fighting, bravery and courage.”
Since their inception, Cancer Crusaders Auxiliary has supported a range of projects in the Children’s Cancer Centre (CCC) including funding two Clinical Trial Coordinators, who support in administering a clinical trials program for children with cancer.
Often confused with drug trials, clinical trials are aimed at developing new or improved methods of care. This includes everything from innovative drug therapies to the best combination of procedures to provide more effective and less toxic treatments for better long-term quality of life.
One of these positions is a dedicated Brain Tumour Study Coordinator, who supports a trial created by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in America, which centres on a state-of-the-art approach to the diagnosis and management of medulloblastoma, a fast-growing, high-grade brain tumour.
According to Ruth, being able to advance the future of medicine in this way is what drives her and her fellow members.
“The fact that we’re able to fund incredible things and make a difference in the lives of children makes it so rewarding –that is what it is all about, and that is what drives you to go harder and raise more.”
Over the years, the Auxiliary has raised funds in a myriad of different ways. They’ve hosted high teas and Christmas markets in Ruth’s home. They’ve also held dinner dances, hosted an Oaks Day Luncheon each year and are actively involved in the stalls at the RCH, where Ruth sells her acclaimed sticky date puddings.
One significant component of the Cancer Crusader’s fundraising is the annual Kids Day Out, something they’ve been doing for six years. Held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Kids Day Out is part of the Good Friday Appeal and offers a range of activities, entertainment and family fun on Good Friday.
“We run the activities section at Kids Day Out on behalf of the Auxiliaries. We do things like lucky dips, games, nail art, a raffle and probably the most popular part –character balloons on sticks. It is such a rewarding day, from both a fundraising perspective, but also for us as members because we have grateful patients and the families who help out manning the stall on the day, as well as RCH nurses and our families,” said Ruth.
For Ruth, being able to fundraise in the community and at events like Kids Day Out adds to the reward of giving back to the hospital.
“When it comes to fundraising, a lot of our initiatives involve providing a service to others – like goods at a market, or activities at Kids Day Out – so people are getting something in return for their money, outside of giving back to the hospital. I know for me, having happy customers really adds to the joy I get from being involved in the Cancer Crusaders.”
This year, the Cancer Crusaders celebrates 10 years since they were first established, something that Ruth is incredibly proud of.
“2023 is a very special milestone for the Cancer Crusaders, marking 10 years since we first began. It is really incredible to reflect on how far we’ve come and all that we’ve done to support the hospital, particularly given the last few years.”
“The fact that we’ve raised as much money as we have in the past 10 years is a testament to the people involved in the Cancer Crusaders. We’re all from different walks of life, some of us work full time and do this on the side, but none of that matters – we’re one team and we’re all working towards the same goal, which is why it works so well,” she added.