Ballarat community comes together to support Brett Edwards and children

BROWN Hill father Brett Edwards is trying to find a “new normal” for himself and his four young children after his wife Angie died earlier this month.

With four children under the age of seven to raise, Mr Edwards is now both father and mother after his 31-year-old wife’s death from a rare and aggressive form of cervical cancer.

But the support network from his family, his in-laws, close friends and work colleagues is helping Mr Edwards cope with the day-to-day running of the house he built with his wife of eight years and the care of children, Brodie, 6, Jameson, 5, Chelsea, 2, and baby Tristan, who is only a few months old.

“The children keep me busy during the day, but I find night time, when they’re in bed, to be my toughest. It was when the children were asleep that Angie and I had time to ourselves, time to talk.

“I have my good days and my bad days. As a family, we now have to find a new normal in our lives. 

“The kids are coping really well, much better than I thought. The two older boys are deep thinkers and are just full of questions. The children are very matter of fact. They’re full of questions.”

Mrs Edwards died on February 6, only weeks after her diagnosis and just a few months after the birth of Tristan. Specialists in Melbourne were astounded by the ferocity of the cancer and told her there was no cure. 

In the weeks before her death, Mrs Edwards virtually organised her own funeral from her hospital bed. A huge Reba McEntire fan, she requested two of her songs be played at her funeral. Mrs Edwards also asked to be cremated and her ashes buried under a yellow rose bush.

It was also in those few short months before her death that Mrs Edwards withdrew from the rest of the world.

“She found it too hard, so she went into her own shell. It was hard to watch, but that was her way,” Mr Edwards said.

Mrs Edwards’ family is still in shock about how quickly the cancer took hold. Mrs Edwards was diagnosed in early December, only a few short weeks after Tristan’s birth. After a PET scan on December 19, she was told there was no cure. She died less than two months later.

“There was so many things she wanted to do before she died,” Mr Edwards said. “One of them was to take Chelsea to the beach ... she has never seen the beach. But Angie went downhill so quickly, she didn’t have the chance to take her.”

Mrs Edwards’ one wish in life was to be a mother and her four children were everything to her. During her brief battle with cancer, she voiced her concerns about how her death would financially impact her family. 

She wanted to ensure her family had a roof over their heads and the children had a good education.

The Edwards scrimped and saved to buy the block of land at Brown Hill and build their dream home, which they moved into just over a year ago.

While Mr Edwards’ employer, MaxiTRANS, has encouraged him to take as much leave as possible and ensured him of job security, there was still a concern about losing the house.

“While I have a great network of support, the kids need me more than anyone ... and I need them,” Mr Edwards said. “I think Angie’s story has really touched the whole community, whether it was because of her young age or how quickly the cancer took hold, or the fact she had four small children.

“There are many people out there with their own (cancer) story. Unfortunately this story happened to us, but the support from everyone has been phenomenal.

“The support from the community has been unbelievable ... overwhelming. From family and friends, to workmates and even complete strangers,” Mr Edwards said.

The Ballarat community has rallied to support Mr Edwards and his children. Already about $10,000 has been raised by a barbecue outside the Brumby’s Bakery at Northway shopping centre.

Community interest in a fundraiser for Mr Edwards and his children later this month has resulted in the need to find a bigger venue. 

The fundraising auction on Friday, February 28, will now be held at the Ballarat Greyhound Track, off Rubicon Street, Redan. Dress code is wear something glittery or sparkly. Cost is $30. For information, call Kelly Wakeling on 0409 871 251 or Rachael Mahoney on 0412 223 608.

A NAB bank account has also been set up for the Edwards family.

Anyone who wants to make a donation can go into an NAB branch and quote BSB: 083 532 account number: 397 507 917.

kim.quinlan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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