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Roxanne treks in honour of fellow policewoman lost to ovarian cancer

Police officer Roxanne Balke says she is honoured to carry the name of Detective Senior Constable Kelly Mason on her trek to Mt Everest Base Camp to raise money for Cherish.

“Sadly, Kelly died last year from gynaecological cancer at 33 years of age,” Roxanne explains. “Even though we work in different regions and we’ve never met, her husband and fellow police officer, Josh Mason, kickstarted my fundraising for the Cherish Trek. By donating $4,500 from the proceeds of a fundraising event held in memory of Kelly, Josh got me half-way to my target, and that made me determined to find the rest.”

Roxanne had originally planned to hike in New Zealand in 2019. That’s until a chance encounter with Professor Andreas Obermair changed her mind. He asked her to consider the Cherish Trek instead. “It wasn’t a hard decision. I know lots of policewomen affected by cancer. Some have done well and others not so,” Roxanne says.

“I’m very grateful to some beautiful friends who have helped me raise money for the Cherish Trek,” Roxanne says. “Three generous businesses – Jackson’s Fire Protection, People in Plastic and Peninsula Paint Supplies – tried to outdo each other by giving me sizeable donations. It definitely helps people to know that 100 per cent of what they donate goes to Cherish for clinical research.”

Roxanne’s colleagues in forensics weren’t surprised by her participation in the Cherish Trek. “They’re used to me doing some pretty out-of-the-ordinary things,” Roxanne laughs. As well as processing crime scenes, Roxanne is part of the Hazardous Environment Examination Team (HEET). This means at times she works in full breathing apparatus and protective clothing. One of her HEET colleagues has trekked to Base Camp via a different route. “He’s given me some great tips to help me prepare for the environment, like what to wear to minimise the dust you inhale as you walk.”

Roxanne’s physical preparation is also in full swing. She regularly walks the trails at Mt Coot-tha on weekends and runs the road twice a week. She’s also doing cycle and weight sessions. “I’d rather be over-prepared and really enjoy it,” Roxanne says. Roxanne’s husband also wasn’t surprised by her decision to take on the Cherish Trek. He’s joined in the preparation by giving her different types of beef jerky for Christmas. “It’s not what every girl wishes for,” Roxanne laughs, “But apparently you start missing protein on the trek, and beef jerky is one way to overcome this.” Her 11-year old daughter wanted to know if the trek was dangerous, which perplexed Roxanne given her day job! Her 13-year old son was just keen to know that Roxanne will be back in time for his birthday and she will. “I know this adventure is a big effort for the whole family, but I also know how important it is to push the boundaries when we get the chance in life,” Roxanne says.

Roxy running with friends at Mt Coot-tha

Roxy in a chemical spill suit