Jen's story

A new bike and a new challenge

Jen rides her cycling road bike in the Smiling for Smiddy triathlon.

A new bike and a new challenge

When Mater ICU nurse Jennifer first decided to do the Noosa Triathlon with Smiling for Smiddy in 2014, she didn’t even own a bike.

The novice cyclist had only taken up exercising the year prior, focusing initially on running—a cycling event road bike had not been high on her list of priorities.

But once that problem was solved, Jen discovered that riding with the Smiling for Smiddy team brought together two of her passions—testing her limits and helping others.

Not being one to shy away from a challenge, Jennifer had already mastered a career change in her mid-30’s, moving from the business world to nursing.

Now, a new sporting challenge was on the horizon.

“In 2014, I’d done a few half marathons, but I was looking for a new challenge,” Jennifer said.

“A friend of mine had been joking that I should do the tri with her and, eventually, she stopped joking.  So I thought, let’s have a crack!"

Despite being “a little bit petrified”, Jen successfully ticked off her first Noosa Tri that year but, unbeknown to her, her biggest test on the bike was yet to come.

In the 2015 event, 10 kilometres into the bike leg, she suffered what doctors would later describe as a suspected ovarian cyst rupture.

“I was in excruciating pain,” Jennifer recalled. “I thought if I vomited, I’d stop, but otherwise I’d push through the pain."

I tried to think about other people and what they go through—I just had to knuckle down and try and do the same. I’m here and I’m choosing my battle.

Jen, Mater nurse and Smiling for Smiddy participant

Not only did Jennifer finish the bike leg, she did it in a personal best time and went on to finish the whole triathlon—despite being forced to walk the final run leg.

She said focusing on the suffering of others was what helped her get to the end.

“I had a friend who’d recently had a mastectomy and an uncle who’d had a renal tumour removed.

“And I also see so many people through work who are suffering. At times like that, I reflect on other people’s journeys.

“I tried to think about other people and what they go through—I just had to knuckle down and try and do the same. I’m here and I’m choosing my battle.”

Today, Jen has three Smiddy Noosa Tri events under her belt and, while she still considers riding a challenge at times, she has the confidence and the support network to keep her on track.

“The Smiddy group is a great bunch, the most welcoming bunch you could meet,” she said. “I hadn’t done much group riding, but everyone is so encouraging.

“A hand on the back means the world. Someone’s always there to help you up a hill or make sure you’re not the last one in the group, or give you tips.”

And the same goes for the people in Jen’s life, whether they be patients or family and friends.

She’s always there to help—and beating cancer is a challenge she’ll never stop fighting for.

Every time you donate to a Smiling for Smiddy rider or triathlete like Jen, or take on an epic Smiddy challenge yourself, you are making a difference in the fight against cancer.


Smiling for Smiddy

By choosing to support Smiling for Smiddy you'll be helping fund vital cancer research at Mater—research that is having a national and international impact. Your gift will go towards supporting the dedicated teams of researchers at Mater Research, who are working on potentially life-saving research into the causes and treatment of melanoma, prostate, breast and ovarian cancers.