Just a few months after the highs of seeing his daughters represent Australia in the pool at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Sholto McKeown’s world came to a staggering halt.
On June 4, he was diagnosed with a grade 4 glioblastoma brain tumour and had surgery four days later to remove 95 per cent of the tumour.
He is now nearing the end of a four-week break from chemotherapy before treatment recommences and instead of focusing on his own plight, Mr McKeown and his family are preparing to pay it forward for the emotional and financial support they received from the Sunshine Coast community following the earth-shattering diagnosis.
Family friend Darlene Reed contacted the McKeowns with the offer to host a fundraising concert for the family, but Sharon McKeown says they had already been so overwhelmed with support after daughter Taylor started a Go Fund Me page that attracted $17,000 in donations.
So, they have decided to accept the offer of the concert, which will feature 2017 The Voice finalist Ellen Reed, but will instead raise funds for the Mark Hughes Foundation for Brain Cancer Research.
Mr Mckeown tells My Weekly Preview the generosity of the wider community “absolutely bamboozled” and “stunned” him.
“Initially, I didn’t want to be supported that way. At first it was kind of embarrassing, because I’ve been proud of being able to support myself and my family,” he admits.
“I was so overwhelmed and never thought it would get to the heights that it did. It has paid for my surgery and radiation, which is an absolute blessing. It really helped us out in a difficult time.”
While Mrs McKeown has been coordinating the fundraising concert, Mr McKeown says he has been keeping a positive mindset.
“It was a seven-hour surgery and it’s early days for any illness really, but the only follow-up scan I’ve had so far was a good scan,” he says.
Mr McKeown says he has been following a strict diet and while he is connecting with other cancer patients to provide moral support, he is also allowing himself plenty of time to rest, in order to combat the fatigue brought on by chemotherapy.
“I’ve lost hair on one side of my head, which is not so much of a drama,” he quips.
“There have been so many people including my family, friends, medical staff and others on the peripherals that have been an amazing support for me, so I felt that we needed to recognise this in a way to thank people while raising money for an organisation that raises awareness of brain cancer.
“Cancers in general touch everyone’s lives, so this is a chance to take a moment to think about the effect it has on everyone and to raise money for a future cure for cancer.
“If I can find a way of doing my best to get through it at this point, I also want to help other people along the way.”
The Sholto’s Hope Charity fundraiser is on at The Events Centre, Caloundra on October 20 from 6.30pm. Tickets are $170 and include a two-course meal, drinks and live entertainment from Ellen Reed and Mick Lyndsay.
Guests will also have the opportunity to sit at a table with some of the greatest local sporting talents, including Kaylee McKeown, who would have just returned from competing at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires, sister Taylor, Cam McEvoy, Leah Neale, Maddie Groves, Dan Smith, Jake Packard, Emily Seebohm, Tessa Wallace and Melanie Wright.
For more information and to puchase tickets, visit theeventscentre.com.au.