Fundraiser provides invaluable support
BELLBRAE’S Janine Manderfeld admitted to feeling helpless after learning her close childhood friend Mat was battling bladder cancer and dealing with the possibility of just months to live.
COVID-19 restrictions meant Janine couldn’t visit metro Melbourne to support Mat and his wife Claire physically, and she knew their finances were stretched, with Mat unable to work and Claire working overtime to pay the bills.
But after launching a fundraiser, shaving her head and raising almost $20,000 so far, Janine and her donors have made an incredible difference to Mat and Claire’s future – however long together that may be.
Janine said she started the GoFundMe page with hopes of raising enough for her friends to go away for holiday and enjoy some quality time while they could, but the tally has exceeded early expectations.
“So many of us (friends and family) were feeling powerless and this was how we could do something,” she said.
“We’ve had amazing support from friends and family; it’s been fantastic.
“I had no idea how much money we could raise; then it became so much more and when I spoke to Claire I realised what it meant.
“They are both incredible musicians and teachers, and have been also been impacted financially by COVID,” Janine said.
“Claire said because we’d raised that amount she could reduce her work and spend more time with Mat, and they don’t have to worry about money as much.”
Mat’s cancer story started when he noticed blood in his urine at the start of 2020, then came the discovery of a tumour on his bladder, followed by surgery and immunotherapy treatment, with his body responding well.
However, less than 12 months later, Mat started experiencing severe back pain. The cancer had spread and fractured his fourth lumbar vertebra, forcing him to have spinal fusion to prevent further damage.
Chemotherapy and other treatments have followed but the cancer has continued to spread, including to his liver and a lymph node.
Janine said Matt had been in hospital last week but was back home by Saturday to watch the head shave event in Janine’s front yard on his phone.
“I’m donating my hair so it had to be in sections, platted and cut, and then my husband Thomas shaved it off,” she said, explaining her fundraiser would go to Variety – hair with heart, which works with wigmakers to make wigs for kids and adults who have lost their hair due to a medical condition.
So while Janine’s hair goes to another important cause, she’s as committed to raising more money for Mat and Claire, as Mat is to fighting cancer.
“If we can keep growing that amount, that’s more security for them.”
Anyone able to support Janine’s fundraiser can read more about Mat and Claire, and make a donation, at gofundme.com/f/financial-support-for-mat-and-claire.