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Leanne’s Journey

As told by sister-in-law, Debra Elms. 

‘Leanne is my sis-in-law and best friend. She has been with my brother, Grant for fourteen years. They live with two kids, Michael and Elizabeth, who are seventeen and fifteen, respectively. At that time in their lives when they’re both trying to find their own way, their Mum was diagnosed with cancer. This is Leanne’s Story. 

In November 2018 (after months of severe pain and several visits to her doctor), Leanne was diagnosed with a bladder tumour. Initially, the advice from the specialist was that she would undergo simple surgery to have the tumour removed and the chances were, everything would be fine. This, however, turned out not to be the case. After surgery in December, Leanne was advised that the small, ‘slow-growing’ tumour they had expected to find, was actually large and aggressive, and had completely taken over her bladder. Further scans revealed the cancer had metastasised to her liver, lymph-nodes and lungs. She would have to undergo a course of chemotherapy, and possibly immunotherapy before the primary cancer could be removed.

At the end of December, Leanne became very ill. Over the next six months, Leanne spent her time in and out of hospital, underwent more surgery and six rounds of chemotherapy. Her physical health deteriorated, she lost a lot of weight, muscle mass, stamina and strength. Constant pain has was a huge factor, not to mention the mental battle that she had to face on a daily basis.

It has not all been doom and gloom. I have seen great strength in Leanne, and the strength and determination I have seen in her partner Grant, I did not think was possible. On good days, Leanne would venture out to appointments and places that she feels comfortable visiting. 

In June, Grant and Leanne were married. Close family, friends and the wonderful oncology ward staff came together to organise and attend a beautiful marriage ceremony. A family friend and marriage celebrant, Liz, helped to make their marriage legally binding at such short notice. It was perfect and to see the smile on both their faces was so beautiful. 

On the 12th of June, Leanne, my beautiful sister-in-law and best friend passed away. We are all absolutely heart broken. Closest friends and family were by her side. Grant, Michael and Elizabeth are so amazed with all the love and support that they have received. We cannot thank you all enough. 

As a family, all we have ever wanted was for Leanne’s journey to be as worry-free as possible; for her to feel comfortable and supported as she battled this awful disease. Grant and Leanne have never asked me – or anyone else – for anything. They’re very private people who enjoy the simple things in life. They have been my support crew and it’s now my turn to return that love.

I have been fundraising for Leanne’s Journey for several months now, training for and participating in several runs in Leanne’s honour. This weekend I will run the half marathon. 

Leanne and Grant decided before she passed that all funds raised via Leanne’s Journey are to go to bladder cancer research initiatives and to the staff at Griffith University Hospital Oncology Ward who became very close with Leanne and Grant, with them every step of the way. 

Leanne put up the best fight she could and she did it her way. Heaven has received another angel.’

To learn more about Leanne’s Journey, or to donate to the cause, please head to

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