By Shilpa C Nangali

If love is the breath of life, then knowing that your beloved is battling cancer is all consuming. There is fear mixed with hope, despair and disbelief, but Jane McGrath never seemed to show her fear in public. Her concern was always for others.

My heart cried when I heard the news that Jane McGrath lost her 11- years of continuous battle with breast cancer. To me, Jane McGrath, the Australian cricketer Glenn McGrath’s wife, was a courageous fighter! I was impressed with her courageous fight with the disease over the past 11 years and was charmed by her smile and impressed by her passion for life. In all the interviews I watched and the stories I read, she was smiling and speaking about her love of life, her husband and her two young children James and Holly. She was the only little own world for these two children. This is going to be really a tough time for them, and I wholeheartedly pray God to give them all the strength that is needed to overcome this!

I’m not sure I would have conducted myself with the same charm and dignity she did if I was faced with such kind of battle. She was 31 years old when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Glenn McGrath says that Jane was not only his wife but also his best friend. He says that he is devastated by the loss of his best friend, who was 42.

In 2003, Jane and Glenn started the McGrath Foundation to support women with breast cancer. The McGrath Foundation has raised millions of dollars for the fight against breast cancer. In February 2006, Glenn announced he would be taking an indefinite break from cricket to take care of Jane. This was not at all fair that such a bubbly woman who had made her family and supporting others her whole world would continually face more challenges and I’m struggling to understand why God always takes away such kind hearted people, who are needed the most here on Earth! I wish each one of us help as much as we can for others, no matter whether it is small or big!

Jane & Glenn…joyous moments spent together…

Glenn retired from cricket last year to spend more time with his family. I respect him for one thing that he never seemed to hesitate in supporting his wife. He never put his job ahead of his family. Also, it couldn’t have been so easy playing at the level he did with what must always have been in the back of his mind and carrying a pain in his heart.

A statement posted by Glenn on the McGrath Foundation website: “Jane would want those women who are battling breast cancer to stay strong. 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.”

Dr Helen Zorbas, the director of the National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre, describes Jane as “a brave face of breast cancer.” Sue Murray of the National Breast Cancer Foundation said: “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.” Ricky Ponting, the Australian cricket team captain said: “Jane McGrath was a wonderful person who fought and maintained grace and dignity during her long-term illness.”

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told parliament that Jane would remain a source of inspiration and hope to all. Steve Waugh, former Australia captain said: “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.” I loved what Steve said about Jane.

They alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive. I remembered this quote by Swami Vivekananda when I read her personal stories, her positive attitude towards her life and her efforts to help others. Her courage and determination humbled me and I am sure it has inspired so many people. Jane was an inspiration whose legacy will continue to benefit so many others. She has taught us not to take life for granted. Jane’s funeral would take place on June 25, 2008 at a Sydney church, and I wish that her soul rests in peace!

I promise to take what time I have with those I love as a blessing. And I here by convey my prayers for all those who are surviving their own personal battles.