WOOZY and weak after emerging from cancer surgery, Marie Mackellin had one question for Sunshine Hospital doctors.
“Can I get out of here? The Bulldogs are playing!”
The answer was an unequivocal ‘No’ – but she was having none of it.
The Western Bulldogs life member discharged herself four hours later, her season pass in one hand and a drainage tube in the other, headed straight for the MCG.
It’s testament to the commitment the Yarraville stalwart has for her beloved Doggies, a team she has supported since she was 3.
And even though they lost against Geelong that day in 2008, she says it was well worth the disappearing act from hospital.
“The doctors told me I couldn’t leave until the next day, and I wouldn’t be able to come back if I left, but I wasn’t going to miss the footy,” says Marie, 64.
“Apart from my nieces and nephews, the Western Bulldogs are my life.”
The surgery to remove a tumour from her left breast wasn’t the first time cancer had touched her family. Nor would it be the last.
Her late husband Robbie battled melanoma for 20 years, starting off as a small spot on his nose before invading the rest of his body including his glands, stomach, bowel and kidney.
He passed away seven years ago at just 56 years old.
She says the final year of his death was the only football season she missed most games.
“I nursed him at home for those last months,” she recalls.
“If it wasn’t for the Western Bulldogs, I don’t know what I would’ve done after he died.
“Everybody involved was there when I needed it. If I was crying, they were there for me. They’d take me out for a can of coke, for lunches, for a chat…”
Former fullback Brian Lake even wore a black armband in a game in 2010 in a game against North Melbourne in 2010 on the same day of Robbie’s death after hearing about Marie’s loss.
Three years ago, her breast cancer returned and she underwent a mastectomy at Sunshine Hospital.
She sung the praises of hospital staff, especially the nurses.
“They were so lovely,” she says.
“Before I went in for the operation, a nurse was cuddling me, telling me I was going to be alright. It was the anniversary of my sister’s death, and I was a bit emotional.
“But it all went well. I felt no pain.”
As the years pass, the cheer squad member’s fervour for the Bulldogs is showing no sign of dimming.
“I live my life in red, white and blue,” she says.
“When I die, I want my funeral service at Whitten Oval and I want to be buried in Brian Lake’s jumper.”
The Greatest Need Project is an online story-sharing website with two major goals – to help patients facing significant hardship and disadvantage, and to facilitate research at Western Health.
As a patient, Marie is sharing her story in a bid to help those at Western Health who need it most.
By making a donation on Marie’s behalf – and sharing her story on social media – you are making a difference too. Thank you.