Going the distance

AFTER losing his young wife Diana to skin cancer just seven months after her shock diagnosis last year, Cockburn’s Jason Smith is stepping into the ring to raise funds for Melanoma Institute Australia. 

With no previous boxing experience, Jason has put himself through a gruelling eight week training regime to prepare for the Corporate Rumble at Crown’s Grand Ballroom (Saturday September 3), where rookie white-collar Rockies will trade blows.

“These past few weeks I have put in extra training hours (week before last I had nine sessions in six days) so that I know when I step into the ring on Saturday night I have given it my all,” says Jason, a local mortgage broker.

“There are 26 boxers involved on the night, split into two teams, so 13 fights. 

“I will fight against one opponent from the Red team – they’ve called him ‘Big Shiv’ and he’s considerably younger than myself, as well as in incredible shape. But I’m taking my life experiences and leaving no stone unturned when I enter the ring. I’m going to give him all I’ve got!”

Aside from the physical benefits of training and a new diet, Jason says the camaraderie from his boxing coach Glen Austin and his blue team mates have help him deal with his loss and channel his grief into something positive.

“The social side of it has also been really beneficial and uplifting,” he says. “The personal fundraising component of it has also meant that I’ve been able to focus my energy on something much larger than myself, using the Corporate Rumble as a mental and physical challenge to myself and to also raise awareness of how serious melanoma is, and to raise funds for Melanoma Institute Australia research, to hopefully assist them in their mission to achieve zero deaths from melanoma by the end of this decade.”

Jason’s wife Diana was just 48-years-old when she was diagnosed with stage four melanoma. Seven months later, after 25 years of marriage, she was gone, leaving behind Jason and their two kids.

“It is still such a huge shock for us and some days it still doesn’t feel real. We are living in her honour,” Jason says. “She was such a bright, vivacious, fun-loving woman, who’s smile and big personality brightened up every room she walked into.

“We miss her everyday but we try to focus on how she would want us to keep living, and living large, doing the best we can each day.”

Aside from the money raised for Melanoma Institute Australia, Jason is hoping his fight will raise awareness of the importance of having regular skin checks, wearing sun-protective clothing and using high factor suncream.

“We urge everyone to have regular skin checks. Book those yearly appointments in advance after every appointment,” Jason says.

“Also, it’s important for people to ‘know the skin you’re in’. If they notice a new spot, or a change in colour and shape of a mole, go to your local GP and have it checked out.” 

To donate to Jason’s appeal go to challenge.melanoma.org.au/page/JasonSmith-49715084

By STEPHEN POLLOCK

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