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23 Jun 2008 10:58
Australia’s cricketers, cancer campaigners and the prime minister paid tribute on Monday to Jane McGrath, the wife of former bowler Glenn McGrath who lost her fight with the disease at the weekend.
McGrath said he was devastated by the loss of his “beautiful wife” who was first diagnosed with breast cancer 11 years ago and who more recently had battled the disease as it spread to her bones and brain.
The 42-year-old leaves behind her two children with McGrath, James (8) and Holly (6) and the organisation she started with her husband in 2001 to support women with breast cancer, the McGrath Foundation.
McGrath said he had never taken his English-born wife for granted and was grateful for the time she had been able to spend with her children.
“Both are only young but as the years pass and they grow older I will ensure that they never forget how much she loved them,” the lanky fast bowler said in a statement.
“They were her world.”
McGrath, who retired from Test cricket in early 2007, said he hoped his wife would be remembered for the courage and determination which “humbled me and inspired so many people.”
“Jane would want those women who are battling breast cancer to stay strong,” he said.
“She would want them to draw strength from the fact she didn’t only ‘survive’ breast cancer for 11 years, but during that time she lived life to the fullest and found pleasure in the simple things so many people take for granted.”
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Jane McGrath’s courageous struggle had touched all Australians.
“Jane was an inspiration whose legacy will continue to benefit so many others,” a statement from the premier said.
Rudd’s comments were echoed by the medical community, with the director of the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre Dr Helen Zorbas describing the former flight attendant as “such a brave face of breast cancer”.
“The role model she has presented to women throughout her journey has been inspiring, very supportive and very encouraging for all women who go through breast cancer,” said Sue Murray of the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Speaking for the Australian cricket team, captain Ricky Ponting said Jane McGrath was a “wonderful person who fought and maintained grace and dignity during her long-term illness”.
The team will wear pink ribbons and place pink grips on their bats during Tuesday’s one-day international against the West Indies in St Vincent in her memory. The colour pink represents the McGrath Foundation.
Former Australia captain Steve Waugh, who was best man at the McGrath’s 1999 wedding, said that his friend’s wife had displayed a courage not seen in sport.
“Courage is often associated with feats on a sport field but the true meaning of it lies elsewhere and someone like Jane best exemplifies that,” he said.
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