Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, and Personal Reflections on Cancer

It was 3 words, spoken to me one October afternoon that sent me weak at the knees. “Dad has cancer”.

It’s easy to forget that behind every statistic is a story. I’d heard that 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer by age 85 but until I got the phone call from Mum, that statistic had no point of reference for me.

Dad had been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer, and the outlook wasn’t good.

After the diagnosis, one of the first things that our family was given was a pack by the Cancer Council explaining what we should expect with the cancer journey. It was so simple, but so helpful and provided a small measure of comfort for the ride ahead.

The Cancer Council believes that the fight against the many forms of the disease needs to be fought on a number of fronts, that’s why their efforts encompass world-class medical research, treatment and prevention campaigns, and ensuring that sufferers have the best quality of life possible.

96% of the Cancer Council’s funding comes from donations, so when I was invited by the Cancer Council to be involved with the 20th anniversary of one of their key fundraising activities, Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, I jumped at the chance.

Chez Dee, Venue for the 20th Anniversary of Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea

This year a number of Australia’s cooking luminaries including Matt Moran, Gary Mehigan and Poh Ling Yeow have prepared a range of dishes for a healthier alternative to the traditional morning tea. So it was that I gathered with a number of other bloggers at Chez Dee in Potts Point to sample the dishes and to hear more about the great work of the Cancer Council.

Zucchini Cheesecakes (top) Bacon & Egg Cupcakes (bottom)

Coffee from Chez Dee

On hand to talk to us was cancer survivor and Channel 10 host Barry Du Bois; journalist, TV host, blogger and author Sarah Wilson alongside staff and volunteers from the Cancer Council.

Sarah Wilson (left) and Barry Du Bois (right)

The morning was at times humorous, moving, informative and most importantly a whole lot of fun but what it really demonstrated to me was the power of people coming together to face illness, because together we’re much more powerful that a collection of individuals.

Rebecca Varidel from Inside Cuisine has her tea leaves read

Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is more than just another fundraiser; it’s a reminder that when we come together, we can tackle anything.

My Dad didn’t survive his battle with cancer but thanks to the work of organisations like the Cancer Council, the journey was that little bit easier. And one day, who knows? Maybe we’ll talk about cancer the same way we talk about smallpox. I hope so.

It’s only by coming together that we’ll make a difference and maybe one day, those statistics will just be another story.

This story is dedicated to Eric Bowell (1948 – 2012)

Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is officially held on May 24th but can be held any time during May. To find out how you can host your own morning tea or simply donate, visit  


Tags: , , , , ,

Author:Jeremy Bowell

Jeremy Bowell is the founder and editor of Taste Explorer. He also writes for,, and has featured in the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living section. He is an avid connoisseur of all things food and drink related.
  • Claire @ Claire K Creations

    What a beautifully written post Jeremy. I’m so sorry about your dad.

    I hope there is a day we talk about cancer like smallpox.

    • jezzster

      Thanks Claire!

  • Lisa Goldberg

    Jeremy what a lovely post but so sad to hear about your dad. The Cancer Council is such a great cause to support and hopefully posts like yours will increases awareness, involvement and donations! x

    • jezzster

      Thanks Lisa, and great seeing you today!

  • Mel

    Sorry to hear about your Dad…Cancer is a horrible thing. We lost my MiL last year and it’s beyond…beyond everything really isn’t it. A great post, and an important one too. Good on you for sharing your story.

    • jezzster

      Thanks Mel. Great to see you yesterday too 🙂