STUART Stoddart and a group of his friends on Saturday started a 260km trek on the Great North Walk to support his mother, Sue, who is being treated for thyroid cancer.
The walk started in Sydney and will head through the Hawkesbury and Watagan Mountains before finishing in Newcastle.
The walk is expected to take about two weeks to complete.
Mrs Stoddart and her husband Gary are well known to locals as the former owners of Morisset Newsagency.
“I was diagnosed out of the blue with thyroid cancer in September, 2016,” Mrs Stoddart said.
The cancer was later found to have spread to her liver, spine and ribs.
“I’ve undergone a couple of major surgeries, radioactive iodine treatment, chemotherapy, and I’m currently trialing a relatively new drug to help in trying to combat this insidious disease.”
But she said she had been buoyed by the support of her family and friends, and Stuart’s initiative was such a “good news story”.
“This is about something positive that a wonderful group of young men and women are doing in our community,” she said.
The group is also raising money for cancer research and for the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.
Mrs Stoddart said she was just one of the 50,000 cancer patients treated there each year.
After initially being told that she would have only six to nine months to live, Mrs Stoddart transferred to Sydney to the Lifehouse centre where she said her outlook had changed.
“After transferring to the Lifehouse centre I’ve been given hope, optimism, and support and a much improved quality of life,” Mrs Stoddart said.
“The team of walkers are raising money for the Lifehouse centre and to help create community awareness and provide much-needed funds to the fantastic researchers and scientists.
“Lifehouse is a not-for-profit organistaion.”
The walking group comprises Stuart Stoddart, Neil Aldridge, Ben Aldridge, Evan Thompson, Talia Jones, Mathew Herb, Jaaden and Gav Antione.
“This walk is a fabulous way to support our family mentally, but also to support those men and women who quietly dedicate their lives to solving this mysterious disease. Imagine a world without cancer!” she said.
Mrs Stoddart urged locals to support the walkers and the work of the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.
To donate, visit everydayhero.com.au and then type in ‘walk for hope’.