With a sense of humour in her stride, Erica Hall (nee Woods) has stepped up to breast cancer in a big way – raising an amazing amount of money for breast cancer research.
After 23 years in the service, Erica is currently off road and on light duties, working in the Ambulance Public Health Unit while she continues to undergo treatment.
Her own breast cancer diagnosis in 2019 – as well as the diagnosis of both her mum and aunt within the same year – is why the cause is so close to her heart.
“Fighting cancer is a tough battle. For some of us there are no days off from the side effects of life-saving treatment – exhausting, uncomfortable and painful side effects that change your quality of life,” she said.
“My dream would be for the one in seven women diagnosed to have access to treatments that not only save their life but allow them to live their best lives comfortably. For my Mum, for my Aunty and selfishly, for myself.”
The Step Up To Breast Cancer Challenge required participants to walk 10,000 steps a day and to raise funds. Erica posted meaningful, heart-warming, and often downright hilarious updates on her Facebook page.
“I had never done any fundraising before, this was my first attempt, and I truly didn’t think it’d raise even $600,” she said.
After posting a photo of Kath and Kel (from the TV hit Kath & Kim) in matching workout gear on her Facebook, her “very funny and supportive” friends and colleagues Jenny Potter and Bec Tulk, donated bright pink matching tracksuits to her and her mum.
“Here we were, making a complete fool of ourselves on the streets of Baulkham Hills. Mum and I have not laughed that much in years,” she said.
But the fun didn’t stop there. After seeing photos and videos of the mother-daughter duo rocking the tracksuits on their walks, more donations flooded in.
As did requests for more videos – including someone who donated $510, just to see a video of Erica’s husband and fellow paramedic, Craig Hall, walk like Kel.
“Let me tell you, that was a sight you can’t un-see,” she laughed.
Knowing first-hand that raising money for breast cancer research will make a big difference, Erica was equal parts astounded and moved by the amount she was able to raise.
“If it wasn’t for the development of cutting edge treatment for triple negative breast cancer, I probably wouldn’t have been able to wander the streets with my beautiful Mum,” she said.
“Mum was one of the first women in Australia to have her type of cancer treated with immunotherapy in 2019 as part of a trial.
“Whilst the treatment is not all roses, we are so grateful for the long term outcome.”
In total, Erica completed 348,518 steps and walked a whopping 284kms in the month of August alone.
She received 196 donations and raised $13,673 – an achievement she credits to the support she received from her family, friends and colleagues.
“My blue family is my family. I cannot thank them enough for donating,” she said.
After completing the challenge, her husband posted this moving post on Facebook:
“I cannot express enough how proud I am of my beautiful wife. She has faced many health battles over the past few years and Breast Cancer was one that rocked our world. For her to face this challenge like she has and to bounce back and raise the amount of money for research she has is an absolute inspiration. I am without doubt the luckiest man in the world to have her by my side. She is my rock, she is the glue that keeps our family strong and happy. I love you! Congratulations on being the person you are and someone that your friends have felt the need to support and donate their hard earned money to and assist a magnificent cause that could save the lives of so many in the future.”
Thanks to Erica’s enormous fundraising success, NSW Ambulance came first in the workplace category of the challenge – raising a total of $20,581 for vital breast cancer research.
Nam Le, Manager Health and Fitness, coordinated NSW Ambulance’s response and helped keep team members motivated.
“I am so proud that the NSW Ambulance team was able to raise a significant amount of money for such an important cause,” he said.
“The money raised will go into further research to help understand risk factors, develop new ways to treat and monitor breast cancer, improve treatment outcomes, improve quality of life for breast cancer patients, and ultimately – save more lives.
“It was equally pleasing to know that the challenge helped our staff get out and be more active, especially last month when the majority of the state was in lockdown.”