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Rally hope for Sharlese

Sharlese and her family are spending time together at home. Photo: Supplied.

The family of a terminally ill young mum are forging ahead with plans for a fundraising rally – though it may be held in her memory instead.

Sharlese Turnbull-Tait, 36, from Picton, is battling bowel cancer which has spread throughout her body.

Her heartbroken family, who had to postpone the car show and rally during Covid Alert Level 4, fear the December event may be too late for Sharlese to enjoy.

But they are determined to hold the Rally for Hope to St Arnaud she has been looking forward to.

Her sister, Kelsie, says while Sharlese won’t be able to be there in person, she is hoping to watch a live stream of the day.

“Unfortunately Sharlese will be too ill to make it as she recently found out her lungs are collapsing due to tumours and she cannot have anymore, treatment but we are still going to do this either in her memory or for her to watch live.”

Sharlese has undergone several surgeries in Christchurch since her diagnosis two years ago, including a partial bowel removal.

Back home in Picton, Sharlese is now focusing on spending as much time as possible with her family, including Ellazae, 3, and Luka, 10.

Kelsie says the original plan was to raise money with the rally for the family to make memories.

Spreading awareness about the disease to other people is a priority too.

“We would love to raise enough money to hopefully create some amazing memories with her family and support the children and family as she falls more ill as she can no longer receive treatment.”

The mum of two saw her own doctor after developing severe stomach cramps in 2018.

But despite several visits over the next few years and a pelvic scan, Sharlese was told it was probably endometriosis – an inflammatory condition of the uterus.

Speaking to the Marlborough Weekly earlier this year, Sharlese says she had sought medical help several times.

“I went to my doctor so many times.”

“When I saw that doctor again after I’d been diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer, he apologised and offered to pray for me.

“He said it never thought it could be bowel cancer as I was too young.

“I want everyone to know the signs and symptoms as age just doesn’t matter,” she says.

The car, bike show and rally will be held on 5 December. Between 9am and 12 noon, vehicles will be on show at Waterlea Racecourse by the McLauchlan Street entrance.

The display is open to the public and the rally starts at 11am, with participants encouraged to pack a picnic.

People then have the option of joining fellow rally goers later when the convoy returns to Blenheim.

Kelsi asks that people heading to the show please bring some cash for raffles and to donate to the cause.

To register your vehicle for the car and bike show, private message the Rally for Hope Facebook page or contact 021 2581213.

Possible bowel cancer symptoms and signs

  • Bleeding from the bottom (rectal bleeding)
  • Change of bowel motions/habits that come and go over several weeks.
  • Anaemia.
  • Severe persistent or periodic abdominal pain.
  • A lump or mass in the abdomen.
  • Tiredness and loss of weight for no obvious reason.
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