Leanne Russo supported breast cancer research in the hope that it would help future generations.
Gary Russo with children Jaden and Ilana
Now her friends, including fellow St Luke's Catholic Primary School mums, are hoping to raise $30,000 for the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research with 14 walkers to tackle the 2016 Perth Weekend to End Women's Cancers in her name.
Leanne's diagnosis of a rare and aggressive breast cancer in May 2013 came as a shock as she and husband Gary had been celebrating the arrival of their second child only a few months earlier.
Despite aggressive treatment of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery after a diagnosis of stage three triple negative inflammatory breast cancer, Gary said Leanne’s health quickly spiralled in September last year.
Leanne was told of secondary cancers in her bones and lungs and at the end of October was diagnosed with leptomeningeal disease, causing headaches and other neurological symptoms.
“It was tough; she got very sick very quickly and then we ran out of time,” Gary said.
“The surprising thing was the progression and all the things that cascaded and went wrong when she was really healthy and young."
Leanne lost her tough two-year battle with the disease in February this year at the age of 36.
“There’s no sense in it, there’s no way to rationalise it, it shouldn’t have happened and it has and it’s just terribly sad,” Gary said.
He said both he and Leanne shared the desire to help others in their situation.
If you want to support a friend, register to walk in Perth on April 2 and 3 in Perth at endcancer.org.au