ACCF Ambassador Sarah Maree Cameron (pictured below) and her sister Jeanette have both faced a battle with cervical cancer. They have overcome the odds to beat this disease and share their story with others. ACCF, Channel 9, and the team at The Block surprised these extraordinary women with the opportunity of a lifetime: a full home renovation done by The Blockheads and their judges in just 3 days. Sarah Maree shares her account of what it was like for her and her sister Jeanette to be part of Channel Nine’s Domestic Blitz Special- The Block to the Rescue.
“My family are big reality TV fans. We watch The Block, Big Brother and of course the specials where someone gets a renovation on their run down home. The latter can be a family event where my sister and I openly shed a tear and our men claim their drinks have been spiked with oestrogen. We love these shows because you no matter how big or small, you seem to find similarities between yourself and the people on the show. They’re real, going through their own battles and you can be inspired by how they carry on with life. I see my sister as a constant inspiration for me, which is why I thought it was her turn to be the person on TV inspiring others – so I nominated her to have her house renovated.
The opportunity to nominate my sister, Jeanette, came from the work I have been doing with the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation. Jeanette, her partner Eammon and their two boys have been through a lot over the years. From health to money issues, they have always fought for their family. Then, when my fiancé Rav and I hit hard times after I lost my job they took us in. I am bias of course, but I thought that for all their hard work they deserved a reward and what better reward than having their humble home renovated?
After the first couple of emails back and forth from the producers of The Block who were organising the Domestic Blitz special, I finally got a call saying that my sister and her family had indeed been selected. From there on it I was in constant contact with the producers helping out wherever I could to ensure they had all the information they needed on the family. Then it was onto planning the big surprise day!
The date was picked and I was asked to get the whole family out of the house… by 7:30am! The whole family know about the work I do with The ACCF so I thought that staging a fundraiser would be the easiest way to get them all out of the house. The morning tea fundraiser was due to start at 9am, so I had to make up a fib that we were getting a free feed at a cafe nearby. This did the trick (who doesn’t like a free feed?). As we left that morning I sent a message to one of the producers to say the house was clear and from that moment on I knew that our whole world was going to change.
At the fundraiser we had organised for myself to say a few words and invite my sister to get up and talk with me as she was such a pillar of strength during my journey. Jeanette isn’t exactly a shy person so I knew she’d have no problems doing this. It was during our talk that Scott Cam and the team came in to surprise Jeanette, Eammon and their boys Harry (10) and Gus (seven).
I don’t want to ruin the rest of the episode for you but what I will say was the show far exceeded anything I thought they were going to do. There was surprise, after surprise, after surprise and I am so thankful that it all happened for my sister and her amazing family. They’re in love with their new house, the boys cannot get over their awesome rooms and Rav and I are so lucky to have our own little spot in their house now instead of our make shift bed.
You hear of this kind of stuff happening but you never, EVER think it will happen to your family. Although I was the one who nominated my sister Jeanette, I feel so lucky to have been a part of it all and see the change it has had on her family. Jeanette and Eammon agreed not to buy a lottery ticket for the rest of their lives as they know they have won that once-in-a-life-time prize.
As you can see by reading our story and watching the show, a Pap test was to thank for the early diagnoses and treatment of cervical cancer for both Jeanette and I. Please urge all the women in your life to have one if they are over-due. If like me you find it hard to remember when yours is due, then sign up to ACCF’s Get the Pap Text to receive a free text message and email to remind you when your next Pap test is due!
ACCF is dedicated to helping to eliminate cervical cancer in Australia and in developing countries. To support their incredible work both here and overseas please consider supporting them by donating. Just $20 would help pay for the screening and treatment for a woman in a developing country for cervical cancer who would otherwise never have had access to it treatment so that they can best protect themselves from ever having to go through what Jeanette and I did.
Thank you to ACCF and the Team at Channel Nine for making this dream a reality for this very real family.”
Sarah Maree Cameron – ACCF Ambassador and star of Domestic Blitz Special- The Block to the Rescue