EVERYONE has a purpose and Kelly Foran found hers in the darkest of corners.
At age 27 and pregnant with her first child, the Boggabri woman was diagnosed with a massive brain tumour.
What followed was a series of events that would test her will to live.
Through the barrage of treatment for her tumour, Ms Foran contracted meningitis, suffered a stroke and became an insulin-dependent diabetic.
She spent eight months in hospital and after being discharged, was forced to use a walker to get around.
But worse was to come.
At just 13 months old, her son Jake was diagnosed with cancer – later having an eye removed – and the family was again on the hospital and treatment treadmill.
Both Ms Foran and her husband suffered breakdowns as a result of the trauma, but they refused to give up.
Through her experiences, Ms Foran established Friendly Faces, Helping Hands, a support group aimed at making city hospital stays for bush people easier.
The group hosts a website, offering advice on everything from how to contact other support groups to how to find the nearest cup of coffee, and a 24-hour counselling service.
Ms Foran will be the guest speaker at a Griffith CWA lunch at the CWA Rooms from 12.30pm today, held to coincide with the lead-up to CWA of NSW Awareness Week.
“There is plenty of help out there but you can be so traumatised and stressed when you’re in and out of hospital that you don’t know where to find it,” Ms Foran said.
“I just thought to myself, ‘this is ridiculous’; we need a central place where people from the country can go and get help.
“There’s a 24-hour hotline, which is me, and I hold people’s hands and walk them through what they need to know.
“I help them organise accommodation or tell them where the nearest newsagent or bank is.
“I can put them in touch with volunteers so they have someone to pick them up and take them to hospital.
“It’s really kept me together – it’s the reason I live.
“I feel so lucky to even be in a position to take the pressure off one family.”
In the two-and-a-half years since being established, the website – www.friendlyfaces.info – has supported over 30,000 people.
Both Ms Foran and her son have been given clean bills of health since their original diagnoses.