Cancer survivor Gina Codotto is fighting back against cancer and passionately urging more women to remain vigilant about their health.
The Cairns local has been diagnosed with cancer three times – but credits early detection as the reason she is still here today.
In recognition of her spirit and determination, has been named Face of the 2017 Cairns Walk For Women’s Cancers, held Sunday, September 17 in support of Cancer Council Queensland.
Ms Codotto said she was honoured to be Face of the event and use the opportunity to encourage other women to get to know their bodies to help with early detection.
“In 1991, I was having a lot of pain – the kind that takes your breath away,” Ms Codotto said.
“I knew this wasn’t normal so I went to the doctor straight away who recommend I have an ultrasound, which showed enlargement of the uterus lining.
“I was ordered to have a total hysterectomy, and it wasn’t until pathologists discovered two tumours – one on the uterus and one the ovary – that I was told I had cancer.
“Specialists in America identified both as primary tumours, which meant the cancer hadn’t spread, so fortunately I did not have to undergo chemotherapy.
“It was quite an ordeal waiting for that information, but as both ovarian and uterine cancer can be quite aggressive I am so lucky I went to doctor when I did!”
Just over ten years later, Ms Codotto was diagnosed with cancer again, this time in her thyroid.
“I had a lump in my neck, and again, I just felt something was wrong and that I should get it looked at straight away.
“It was cancer once again, but fortunately it was in the early stages so it could just be removed.”
Since her experience, Ms Codotto has fundraised for Cancer Council Queensland, and is passionate about raising awareness of cancer.
“When I underwent my hysterectomy, I remember telling myself, ‘if I survive this, I promise will help Cancer Council in some way’ – I survived and I’ve been fundraising ever since,” Ms Codotto said.
“I believe that if we make people aware of the disease, and keeping fundraising, we will find a cure – we have to keep striving for that.”
Ms Codotto encouraged locals to join her at Cairns Walk For Women’s Cancers, held at Esplanade Western Lawn at 8am.
“It’s fantastic to named Face of Walk For Women’s Cancers – I hope I give women hope to keep fighting against cancer,” she said.
“I know women are busy – they work, they look after children or other family members, but they often put their health last.
“If we listen to our bodies, have regular checks like pap smears and mammograms, we can help detect cancer while it’s early.”
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said the charity was delighted to have Ms Codotto on board as the Face of Cairns Walk For Women’s Cancers.
“Gina is a great inspiration to her community and a great advocate for awareness of early detection and prevention,” Ms McMillan said.
“One in six Queensland women will be diagnosed with breast or gynaecological cancer in their lifetime.
“By walking with us at Cairns Walk For Women’s Cancers you are helping change the future for thousands of Queensland women.
“Funds raised at events like these enable us to conduct lifesaving cancer research, offer vital support services to those affected and educate people on how to reduce their cancer risk.”
To register for the Cairns Walk For Women’s Cancers, visit cancerqld.org.au/walkforwomenscancers or call 1300 65 65 85.
Locals can register individually or as a team, and walk either 3km ($25) or 6km ($30).
Cancer Council Queensland is an independent, community-based charity, the achievements of which are made possible by the generosity of Queenslanders.
For more information about Cancer Council Queensland, visit www.cancerqld.org.au or call 13 11 20.