Waiting in line for our turn on the new Superman Escape roller-coaster, my dad Craig and I were buzzing with excitement.
It was my 15th birthday and my parents had brought me and my siblings Matthew, then 23, Lauren, 20 and Marcus, seven, to the Gold Coast.
Total adrenalin junkies, Dad and I loved the thrill of being catapulted through the air!
Afterwards, we met back up with Mum and Marcus, who’d been waiting at the bottom.
‘Want to go again?’ Dad egged me on.
‘Let’s go!’ I replied.
Growing up, I’d always been incredibly close with both of my parents.
Even as a teenager, I loved spending time with them.
Generous and kind, Dad was the type of person to give the shirt off his back if someone needed help.
‘You deserve to be happy,’ he’d often remind me.
No matter what situation I’d find myself in, my parents were always supportive of my choices.
So it came as no surprise that when I invited my new boyfriend Charlie, then 27, around for dinner in February 2016, Mum and Dad welcomed him with open arms.
Charlie and I had met a month earlier and I loved that he was family-orientated, just like me.
‘My biggest goal in life is to become a dad one day,’ he admitted.
Then one night around five months later, I was feeling run down so Charlie decided to make fried eggs – my favourite.
But the smell of them cooking made me physically sick.
‘You must be pregnant,’ he joked.
There’s no way, I thought.
Still, curiosity got the better of me, so the next morning I took a test after Charlie left for work.
Calling him to deliver the news, he was over the moon.
‘You’re going to make a great mum,’ he said.
When we told my parents, they were delighted.
Then when I was four months pregnant, Charlie proposed, but not before asking my dad’s permission first.
I later learned Dad was so excited he didn’t even let Charlie finish the question!
We welcomed our daughter Ivy in January 2017.
A year later, when Charlie and I married, Dad and I shared our first dance to <Perfect> by Ed Sheeran.
‘You look so beautiful,’ he whispered as we hugged.
But three months later our worlds were turned upside down when Mum called with devastating news - Dad had prostate cancer.
She explained Dad had trouble going to the toilet for some time, but, like most men, had put off going to the doctor.
At hospital a few days later, Dad’s specialist warned it was aggressive.
‘We’ll get through this,’ I promised him.
But the following week, we learned the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes.
‘I’m afraid it’s terminal’ his specialist told us, warning Dad would be lucky to have another three years with us.
Devastated, Charlie and I decided to try for another baby right away, so Dad could meet his grandchild.
Little Pia was born in May 2019.
Sadly, Dad’s condition slowly worsened and the man I’d looked up to my whole life was fading away before my eyes.
Refusing to give up hope, Charlie did lots of research and found a targeted radiation treatment called Lutetium made specifically for prostate cancer.
But with no funding for the treatment in Australia, it would cost $10,000 per round.
Though we knew Dad’s case was terminal, we hoped it could give him some extra time.
There was no way we could afford it and I wracked my brains for ways we could fundraise.
Then as Charlie and I sat down to watch <Millionaire Hot Seat> like we did every night, I had an idea.
Desperate to help, I convinced Charlie to apply to be a contestant on the TV show.
Filling in an application for him right away, I explained how we wanted to win money to help fund Dad’s treatment.
When we told my parents what we’d done, they were thankful but never imagined we’d be picked to try our luck.
My heart broke when we learned Dad’s cancer had spread to his bones.
Then just a month later, in February this year, Charlie was called for his turn in the hot seat.
Watching from the audience, I was sick with nerves.
During his introduction, he explained he wanted to win money to help Dad.
‘We’re just hoping to give him more time,’ he told the host, Eddie McGuire.
Answering the first four questions correctly, Charlie passed on one about crocheting.
Competing against five other contestants, he hoped if they got their questions wrong and were eliminated, he’d get the chance to come back in time for the final question,
Thankfully, his tactic paid off when he was left as the last man standing.
Sitting across from Eddie, Charlie was asked which country’s capital city was Valetta.
The options were Thailand, Cyprus, Venezuela and Malta, and as the clock ticked down, I could see Charlie struggling.
Please lock in D I thought, knowing the answer.
With just one second to spare, Charlie said Malta.
Then I was called down to stand by Charlie’s side.
That’s when Eddie revealed we’d won $50,000 to help towards Dad’s treatment.
Bursting into tears, Charlie and I held each other tightly.
We couldn’t wait to share the great news with my parents.
At first they were reluctant to let us help, but we wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Now, five months on, Dad’s undergone two rounds of Lutetium which has helped to reduce some of his tumours.
Better still, his specialist recently revealed that we’ll still have Dad with us for a few more years yet.
Though I can’t imagine a life without him in it, I’m so grateful that my girls will get to grow up knowing what a wonderful man he is.
In Australia and New Zealand, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men.
Symptoms can include frequent or difficult urges to urinate, discomfort urinating, finding blood in urine or semen, and pain in the lower back, upper thighs or hips.
To find more information, visit prostate.org.au or prostate.org.nz