PINK DAY – Blowing the whistle on ovarian cancer: Michelles story


This Pink Cup will be raising funds to help one of our own…read Michelle’s story and share with your friends and family. If it persuades one person to go and get something checked out we’ve done something positive.

Michelle Cole is familiar to many as a woman in black on the football fields of Sydneys Northern Beaches, but shes been battling a dark secret.

Michelle, a Manly Warringah Football Association referee for over 13 years, has been fighting ovarian cancer and for the second time in less than two years shes had to hang up her whistle to undergo treatment.

But if itd been left up to Michelle, she may have been diagnosed a lot later.

Im the kind of person who doesnt like doctors and only ever go if Im properly sick. It was my partner Kym, who noticed that Id lost a lot of weight without trying. There was no reason for it, and she was worried so she told me to go and get it checked.

I had no other warning bells. But the doctor ordered a whole load of tests, and when my blood test came back they knew it was cancer. A scan confirmed where it was.

I just want everyone to know how important it is that if something changes, weight loss, bowel changes, a rash, a twitchy throat, anything unusual, that you need to get it checked. You just never know.

The same goes if youve got a family history. Just go and get a blood test and then go again in 12 months time. You need to be proactive about your health. You can save yourself, and your family and friends, a whole lot of heartache if you do go and get it checked.

Michelle went into remission after her first round of treatment, but almost a year later follow-up blood tests revealed the worst news. The cancer was back.

Shes now recovering from surgery and undergoing chemotherapy, but the signs are good.

Michelle is looking forward to resuming her impressive football career. On top of refereeing, shes coached, juniors and seniors including premier league, and notched up 22 years as a player with local clubs. Shes spent 17 years at Belrose and Terrey Hills, where shes a life member, as well as running out with Wakehurst, Harbord Seasiders and this year Beacon Hill. Talented on the field and in goal, she was awarded 2019 Womens Player of the Year at Beacon Hill, where she played with the W30 Bend it like Beacon team.

I tried to play football through my treatment even if it was only 10 minutes on the pitch. Everyone on the pitch was very supportive and understanding. It didnt matter if I could keep up, just being a part of the game helped me keep a positive attitude.

Michelle loves the game so much she wants to get everyone involved and encourages women of all ages to be part of the sport.

I just want girls to out there, get involved, get away from screens and realise that you are strong, capable women and you can do any sport you want. You are not a petal, you can go and play football, or rugby or league.

When you are out there you are running around and its skilful. Its especially good for women over 35 to help maintain fitness. It is also a great social thing, friendships develop and you go and support each other.

Some of that football family support is heading back Michelles way with a Pink Cup Gala Day being held. Teams will compete in a fun round robin contest on 8 December at the Calabria Club, in Manly Vale in a fitting tribute to Michelles contribution to the womens game.

Pink Cup organiser, Beacon Hill womens co-ordinator Maria Pollard, said: Michelles an inspiration for a lot of women players. She loves the game, is an amazing, fair and accomplished referee and player, and we all want to do something to help a member of our football family through a tough time. Football is more than just a game, its a way of life.

Michelle is always encouraging, always smiling, and always wants everyone to enjoy playing. This is our way of acknowledging what a positive influence shes had and continues to have on so many people. Our very small way of saying thank you.

For more information on the Pink Cup, or to sponsor or donate to the event, please contact Maria Del Pilar Pollard 0413486424

Sharon Leifer


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