Strength, in life, is an elusive thing; it comes and goes, but permanency is not one of its many features. To be strong in all phases and all facets of life is simply unrealistic. Life does not follow a linear path – it oscillates backwards and forwards with the journey’s various challenges.

This is a truth people often forget – particularly women. We often find ourselves painting on a brave face because being brave is being strong, right? And being strong means you have got it all together and everything will be okay, right?

Wrong. You can be brave without being strong and being strong does not mean you will keep it all together. Sometimes, it is okay to say: “I need help” or “No, I am not okay”. Sometimes all we need is to ask for a helping hand to find the inner strength, which understandably, can be lost during life’s more testing times.

As a mother of a child living with cancer, it can be extremely difficult trying to grapple with the rollercoaster ride of emotions where one victory becomes another setback. Trying to care for a child with cancer as well as trying to hold the stability and fort of the entire family is certainly no easy feat.

This is the reason the Women for Challenge (WFC) Committee was created, and this is what the Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend Gala Dinner celebrates – the power of women coming together to give support and strength to women who need it most.

Diamonds is the most fantastic way of celebrating our Challenge mothers and the tireless work the Women for Challenge Committee does. With over 1,500 women attending every year, fantastic food provided by the wonderful Chef Kelly and his team at Crown, and stellar entertainment, the night is always a blast and this year was no different!

With our hosts Lauren Phillips and Kris Smith leading the way, the night was destined for success. From 6.30pm sharp, women of all ages and backgrounds showed up dazzling in their most fabulous dresses ready for a night of fun, laughter and comradery.

Whilst the night was full of many highlights – from Dami Im’s incredible performance and Velvet Corporation lighting up the stage, to the amazing Live and Silent Auctions that saw nearly everyone go home a winner – there were two very special women who made this night so memorable.

The first of these women was our 2018 Diamond of the Year Award recipient, Doreen Rogers. Having been involved with Challenge for over three decades, the work Doreen has done to support families living with cancer is outstanding. She has always gone above and beyond for Challenge, even welcoming many families into her own home as if they were her own. Congratulations, Doreen, you are an incredible woman and exemplify all that this event and the WFC Committee stands for!

The second of this pair of formidable women is former Challenge member and now volunteer, Suelyn Van Den Helm. Suelyn was this year’s guest speaker and her speech was nothing short of extraordinary. Suelyn’s words touched the hearts of many in the room and her journey from being a cancer patient to now a researcher at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute is inspiring. It is an absolute privilege to know someone as wonderful as Suelyn and we cannot thank her enough for sharing her story.

Amidst all the emotion and fun of the event, what would Diamonds be without the Diamond? Every year, one lucky woman is fortunate enough to walk home with a stunning diamond ring kindly donated by Sol’s Diamonds, and this year, the lucky lady was Cindy Clark. Congratulations, Cindy!

Our other incredible prize winners of the night were Sarah Johnson, Fiona Healy, Brianna Harris, Irene Mantzis, Trudy Hardy, Anna Jennings, Shannon Jeans, Tanya Intagliata, Caroline Dixon, Brianna Lawson, and Renee O’Leary.

This event would not be possible without the help and support of so many people. Firstly, congratulations and thanks to the WFC Committee – Danielle Bleazby, Sarah DeBoer, Jane Gale, Carolyn Josephson, Wendy Nankervis, Tania Port, Emi Slade and Anna Toman – and our event manager, Janey Rainey. Your unwavering dedication and determination to ensure this event is a success is outstanding. Big thanks also to our fantastic auctioneer, Michael Wood, and superb hosts, Lauren Phillips and Kris Smith; you all gave the night a special sparkle!

Secondly, to our presenting sponsor, Bed, Bath N’ Table, event partners Crown & Staging Connections, along with the support of sponsors SwisseBalanceECOYACarman’s KitchenBioReviveHairy Lemon EnergyMORHeritage Fine Chocolates AustraliaLavazzaFRESHPAPERCirca HomeUtonicNine WestShort StoryHanesActive Draping, and Showfx Australia – without your support and input, Diamonds would not be where it is today.

Last, but not least, to our volunteers, thank you for all your commitment on the night. Your tireless efforts help the event run as smoothly as possible and for that, we are so very grateful.

Collectively, we have all helped to make life a little brighter for Challenge mothers and their families living with cancer.

We are so proud of all the hard work that has gone into Diamonds over the years and to see it grow into the extraordinary event that it is. Every year, the event just proves that when women support each other, incredible things happen.

We hope everyone had an amazing night and we cannot wait to be back better than ever next year in 2019!