Letitia's story

Letitia's story

Letitia was devastated to lose her close friend Kelly Carlton (Kel) to ovarian cancer in 2013. Kel was just 43, and her life's mission was always to support others. In the face of grieving and in honour of Kel, Letitia continued her friend's mission, and put her talents to work, through founding the Kelly Carlton legacy. Here is Letitia's story.

"I first met Kel back in 2005, when we both worked in the travel industry. Kel was one in a million. Her big brown eyes and infectious laugh would lift an entire room. You were safe with Kel. She was so selfless and caring, never uttered a bad word about anyone, and she gave the best hugs."

Kel was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer in December 2012 and sadly passed away in July 2013, just seven months later. During this time she focused on fighting hard, living and enjoying life.

"For anyone who has been through it, or touched by it, cancer treatment is hard. Particularly for advanced cancer sufferers where there is no cure. Despite her terminal diagnosis, Kel made it her mission to support others in her own flamboyant way.

"Kel always had chemotherapy on a Friday. To lift everyone's spirits, she established her own tradition of 'Champagne Friday', where she and other chemotherapy patients would enjoy a fine bottle of bubbles along with some pâté’, French pastries and other delights. Champagne Friday became so popular that Kel's family and friends had to book in advance to see her!

"On 29 July, 2013, ovarian cancer claimed my beautiful friend—a day I will never forget.

There are many times you want to give up—but you need to fight for yourself and everyone around you.


"We established the Kelly Carlton Legacy (KCL) in April 2014, with the vision to support cancer patients and their families and raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. There are so many worthy charities and I wondered how I could get started and stand out.

"I focused on my skills—as a hairdresser and a runner, I sought inspiration from my passions.

"We hairdressers are like counsellors. We get to connect with people, particularly cancer sufferers who often lose their hair. Donating our time to cut hair is a personal and practical way to help and remember all those people who are suffering from, or have died from, cancer, and their loved ones.

"I train for marathons, and it struck me that in some ways cancer treatment is like a long and hard race to survive. There are many times you want to give up, but you need to fight for yourself and everyone around you.

"Since 2014, KCL has grown and grown—we've hosted three 'hairathons', combining my passions of hairdressing and running, to raise funds for ovarian cancer research at Mater. We’ve also been involved with River Run 100 since 2015, where we’ve hosted our 'Hairathon' and had teams of runners representing  KCL. In 2016, Kel’s Legacy was awarded the ‘Elisha Neave memorial award’ in recognition of great community spirit. I have since gone on to help co-manage the River Run 100 event! It’s fair to say that KCL is now a permanent fixture of this terrific event. 

"From 2017, we've hosted many a bake stall and crazy hair stall at various community events, including community markets to spread the word about the unmet need for continued investment in ovarian cancer research.

"This year, on 8 September 2019, KCL will be holding a lolly stall at the River Run 100 to raise funds for Mater. As you can see, we've adapted over time to suit the demand of the community, to ensure that we can continue to raise as much awareness as possible. To date, KCL have raised more than $25 000 for ovarian cancer research at Mater, and I'm so proud of KCL's achievements.

"My dreams for KCL don't stop at the River Run 100 though—it's my dream to work with Mater to help raise awareness and much-needed research funding to find a cure for ovarian cancer.

"I am so proud to be a part of the Kelly Carlton Legacy, to help Kel keep helping others."

To support KCL, or to purchase one of Letitia's hummingbird pins for $5, visit the Everyday Hero page.