Family heartbreak: Mum and daughter's joint cancer battle
A DEVASTATING family battle has resulted in a resounding rally of community support.
Michelle "Shelly" Bates and her daughter Melissa "Lou Lou" Hix have been diagnosed with cancer. They were diagnosed with bowel and breast cancer, respectively, just before Christmas last year.
Close family friends Jennifer Howell and Jade Vella have seen the turmoil their ordeal has inflicted upon the family - physically, emotionally and financially.
Determined to provide for two people they say always put others ahead of themselves, they arranged "Shelly and Lou Lou's Knickers & Knockers Cancer Bash".
Taking place at the Kuttabul Hotel this Saturday, the fundraising event will support two people Ms Howell said had been like family to them.
"Both myself and Jade worked with Shelly for many years in pubs and bars," she said.
"They're just like a mum and sister to us - the whole family is our family.
"It's hard to watch people you care about struggle. Usually you rely on your family (in these times) but when it's your whole family suffering who do you turn to?"
It has been a busy two months of organisation for the dedicated friends. They have collaborated with friends, family and businesses in the region to secure donations of items to be raffled and auctioned on the night.
Butchers in the area will put on a barbecue, and Mackay music acts Heath and Leyon Milner will perform.
Ms Bates has seen the generosity from her peers time and again, and said this experience had made her realise how much love encompassed the community. However, Ms Vella said there was plenty more they could accomplish.
"As they live rural, out of town, they have to travel in and out of hospital daily and are unable to work," she said.
"There is still many other things like rent, food, travel and medical expenses taking their toll on the entire family during this process. It is a chance for the community to give back to these girls for all the fundraisers they have done for others in the past."