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Memorial garden raises funds for melanoma research

Thursday 06 August 2020

Just an hour and a half from Brisbane, you will find a garden that is making a difference in the quest to find a cure for melanoma.

Trevor Page started the garden, in Edward Street in the small tourist town of Esk, with his wife Sandra Conradsen, who sadly passed away from Melanoma in 2018 with the aim of not only building a tourist attraction but promoting and raising funds for melanoma research.

The open garden which is now a memorial to Sandra's memory has to date raised more than $600 for the PA Research Foundation. After being diagnosed in 2016, the care shown to Sandra by staff at the PA Hospital (PAH) made the decision to put funds towards the PA Research Foundation, which supports melanoma research through an ongoing partnership with the University of Queensland Dermatology Research Centre, an easy one.

"Sandra was diagnosed in May of 2016 with stage 4 melanoma, initially she responded very well to immunotherapy but due to side effects had to move onto less effective treatments," Trevor said.

"Sandra was under Associate Professor Victoria Atkinson's team at PA, as well as having had treatment by Gamma Knife (a non-invasive alternative to neurosurgery) and more traditional radiation treatments, we were always impressed with whole PA team."With visitors to Esk able to access the garden from popular local eatery, Nash's Café, the garden boasts a wide array of different garden creations for garden lovers and tourists alike to take in, including a large stone pyramid, a reflection pond, a huge bowerbird bower, a fairy garden, and more, with a key feature being the use of PA Research Foundation's iconic and well-known rubber ducks.

Making Trevor's $600 plus funds raised even more impressive is the fact that visitors are not charged to walk the garden but can opt to donate to a donation wheel in the garden itself.

"People can come and goanytime so I only rarely speak to visitors, almost always when I do speak to them, they are impressed with the garden and think I've done an excellent job," Trevor said.

"Donations are anonymous, with the donation wheel encouraging people to make donations into specific containers for different denominations. The largest note left so far has been $5 with majority of funds being gold coins."I suspect some people like certain aspects of the garden and others find other things. and ideas. Generally, the creek and pond, pyramid, and ducks are always popular."

With most deadly cancers metastasizing to the brain, PARF is also funding research by PAH Radiation Oncologist Mark Pinkham and University of Queensland Diamantina Institute researcher Professor Nikolas Haass into the metastasis of skin cancers to the brain, making every dollar raised by the likes of Trevor, all the more powerful.

Trevor already has more additions up his sleeve to draw in and delight those who visit 'Sandra's Garden' and he had a simple message for anyone travelling west of Brisbane.

"I'm always thinking up things for the garden, I'm currently working on large clay snails and millipedes, and a chalkboard for comments and some temporary artworks. As plants grow the garden will change by itself too," Trevor said.

"Come for a drive on the weekend and spend some time in the garden before enjoying the other attractions in and around Esk. Oh and watch out for the ducks!"

To support melanoma and cancer research at the PA Hospital donate here.