Sandy's sense of fun 'unstoppable': Cancer Council

VIVACIOUS: Sandy Ostini. Photo: NSW CANCER COUNCIL
VIVACIOUS: Sandy Ostini. Photo: NSW CANCER COUNCIL

SHE had a hand in raising more than a million dollars for cancer research, treatment and prevention, and was a source of inspiration for many.

But after a decade fighting her own cancer battle, Sandy Ostini died on Sunday, surrounded by family. 

Hundreds of people took to social media to express their condolences overnight which, her husband Frank said, reflected her habit of putting others first.

“She came second, that’s how it always went,” he said.

He described her as fun, outgoing and well-liked, willing to try her hand at anything, including waterskiing.

“Nothing fazed her,” he said.

Rather than her own diagnosis a few years later dampening her will to give, it seemed to have the opposite effect and she only gave more of herself from there on in.

Camilla Thompson, Cancer Council

A Cancer Council volunteer for 21 years, she first became involved in Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, organising an event for friends and family affected by cancer after she found a flyer in her letterbox.

From there, she became involved in Daffodil Day, Pink Ribbon Day, Girls’ Night In and Relay for Life.

“Daffodil Day was her favourite day – we would go to businesses in the morning, then the pubs at lunchtime, and the pubs again at nighttime,” Mr Ostini said.

He said the fundraisers became family activities, with their two sons camping out at Relay for Life from a young age and later organising their own charity efforts.

ALWAYS GIVING: Sandy Ostini (centre) ready to go on yet another Daffodil Day campaign.

ALWAYS GIVING: Sandy Ostini (centre) ready to go on yet another Daffodil Day campaign.

Relay committee member of 12 years Terry Betts expressed his sorrow about losing a good friend.

“She had an exceptional personality – she got on with everybody, she knew everybody and she had a way of getting everyone to contribute,” he said.

“It was her enthusiasm and vivaciousness – if she was talking to you, you got caught up with her energy.”

Mr Betts said Mrs Ostini set the bar “very high” for future efforts.

Current committee chair Emily Scott agreed, saying Mrs Ostini guided and motivated her and others on the committee since she joined two years ago.

ALWAYS SMILING: Sandy Ostini is being remembered as Orange's cancer fundraising champion.

ALWAYS SMILING: Sandy Ostini is being remembered as Orange's cancer fundraising champion.

Camilla Thompson, speaking on behalf of Orange’s Cancer Council staff, said Mrs Ostini had made life easier for many patients facing cancer.

“Bubbly, ballsy, while never taking no for an answer – these are just some qualities that made her such an effective fundraiser and such a loved member of our organisation,” Ms Thompson said.

“Rather than her own diagnosis a few years later dampening her will to give, it seemed to have the opposite effect and she only gave more of herself from there on in.”

Ms Thompson recalled the Ostini home became “a sea of yellow, blue and purple” merchandise in the lead-up to big events.

“Her sense of fun made her unstoppable – such as roaming the pubs of Orange to sell the last of the daffodils well after everyone else had packed up their stalls on Daffodil Day, and shamelessly dressing up in outrageously bright colours when collecting donations in the community,” she said.

Mrs Ostini was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago, but two-and-a-half years ago, it spread and became terminal.

She leaves behind sons Kyle, 21, and Bryce, 20, stepdaughter Melissa, 33, and three grandchildren.

Mr Ostini said his wife pushed past her original prognosis and was active until a week ago.

“The biggest remark [on Sunday] was that she was in heaven, organising a fundraiser already,” he said.

He hoped continued fundraising would improve survival rates.

“The money [she raised] wasn’t wasted, but hopefully they will figure out how it all works and stop people from dying,” he said. 

Funeral details are yet to be announced, however the Ostini family has requested donations to the Cancer Council rather than flowers. 

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