Mum’s battle brought family even closer

Karen Toon with her three daughters. Photo: Melinda Jane
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Whether it’s celebrating a mum, step-mum or a motherly figure, Mother’s Day holds a different meaning in everyone’s lives.

For Leonay mum of three, Karen Toon, the day is spent with a grateful heart.

“We are a close-knit group anyway, so we always do special occasions together, but that is my most precious time because I am thankful that I am still here,” she said.

Diagnosed with breast cancer at 48, Ms Toon’s life came to a halt.
Seen to be the pillar of strength in her family, daughter Krystel De Ruiter said it was difficult to see her mum battle the disease.

“For a lady who was the strongest woman I’ve ever met, seeing her on the lounge after her first chemotherapy session was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to face,” she said.

“She was so physically unwell that it broke down not only her strong motherly presence, but her entire character.”

Karen Toon with her three daughters. Photo: Melinda Jane

Today, seven years after her treatment, Ms Toon is in remission and enjoying life with her three children and grandchildren.

“I’ve had seven years of grace to continue on and I thank God every day that I’m still here,” she said.

Ms De Ruiter said medical advancements helped save her Mum.

“We know the treatments Mum received and benefitted from are thanks to breast cancer clinical trials and research,” she said.

“Mum and I also know there are many other women who need our help because better treatment options for their type of breast cancer have not yet been discovered.”

It is for this reason that Ms Toon decided to share her story, in the hopes that more support is given to breast cancer trials, ahead of this year’s Mother’s Day Research Appeal.

Karen Toon with her three daughters. Photo: Melinda Jane

“Like I said to the people around me at the time, if it was 20 years prior that I got my diagnosis, with how aggressive it was, I wouldn’t be here,” she said.

“It’s about bringing more awareness to women, their children and their children’s children to continue the fight so it can be eradicated.”

To make a donation or to purchase a Mother’s Day card, visit or call 1800 423 444.

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