UPDATE: Community digs deep to support surf girl with cancer
UPDATE, Wednesday: IN JUST four days the Bundaberg community has rallied together to support Gemma Henricksen.
Miss Henricksen was diagnosed with a rare form of melanoma in April.
Friends and family sought $10,000 to help give the 24-year-old a "bloody big send off" and created a GoFundMe on Saturday.
More than 300 donations have now been made to the GoFundMe page, totalling almost $30,000.
UPDATE, Tuesday: SUPPORT continues to flow in for Bundaberg surf girl entrant Gemma Henricksen.
A GoFundMe page was launched on Saturday and more than $26,000 had been donated so far.
UPDATE: Gemma Henricksen's mother Louise spoke with the NewsMail on behalf of Gemma and said they were overwhelmed with the love and support given to them.
"We are still praying for a miracle and appreciate the prayers being said," Mrs Henricksen said.
"We are just a normal family facing a big thing as a lot of families do, you just don't want it to be you."
EARLIER: Life can change at the drop of a hat.
Bundaberg woman Gemma Henricksen's life turned upside down in April when she was told she had a very rare form of melanoma.
One moment she thought she was fit and healthy; the next she was dying from cancer.
Family and friends of the 24-year-old want to make the best of the time she had left and set up a GoFundMe page on Saturday.
But they didn't expect such a swift and overwhelming response from the community.
"Ideally we'd love to say 'adios cancer' but since that option is off the table, we are going to give her a bloody big send off," the page's creators wrote.
"For those of you who know her, she's also infected with the travel bug - turns out there's no cure for that either."
The page was launched to help Miss Henricksen travel while she still can, and within hours the total of $10,000 was reached.
But the support for the girl with the infectious smile and big spirit did not stop.
In just two days the page has raised more than $21,000.
During a trip to the doctors for what she thought was a food allergy, Miss Henricksen found out she had two tumours growing in her bowel and it had spread to her liver and lungs.
There is no treatment available for her stage four cancer.
Miss Henricksen isn't new to fundraising - it's just that she is normally the one doing it for others.
She was the this year's Bundaberg Summer Surf Girl entrant and raised $17,650 for the Bundaberg Surf Life Saving Club.
Now, donations for Miss Henricksen herself are coming from near and far with messages of support including "keep fighting" and "we know how brave, beautiful and strong you are".
Click here to donate and help "give her a bloody big send off".
- About 3% of melanomas diagnosed in Australia are not caused by sun exposure. This means about 400 people are diagnosed each year.
- They are either acral melanomas - on the palms of the hand, soles of the feet and nails - or mucosal - in the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract and the mouth.
- They are much harder to detect and experts do not know what causes them.
- Melanoma is a form of cancer that develops in the skin's pigment cells (melanocytes).
- It is the most serious form of skin cancer.
- Melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australian men, after prostate and bowel cancer, and will account for an estimated 12% of all new cancers diagnosed this year.
- Melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australian women, after breast and bowel cancer, and will account for an estimated 9% of all new cancers diagnosed this year.
- Almost 14,000 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma this year.
- Melanoma represents 2% of all skin cancers, but causes 75% of skin cancer deaths.