FOR one hundred and fifty kilometres Rhali Dobson will walk with some very special people in the back of her mind.
The Melbourne City W-League star will make the trek north from Sydney to Newcastle in June to raise funds for the Mark Hughes Foundation while raising awareness for brain cancer.
You see, it's a cause very close to her heart after partner Matt Stonham had the sobering diagnosis delivered in 2015 following a seizure on the football field.
"Twenty-four hours after Matt had the seizure he was diagnosed with a brain tumour," Dobson recalled.
"From there he underwent brain surgery and chemotherapy but he will never be completely cancer-free because they couldn't take it all."
Part of their routine now involves regular check-ups and despite the cancer clouds that permanently linger overhead, the pair keep a positive outlook.
"Every year you still get that anxiety when the check-ups come around and you wonder what-if, but we try to stay positive," she said.
"We just call it a speed bump and remain really positive; we tell ourselves this is going to be a story we're going to tell our kids one day.
"I live away for five to six months a year which is nothing compared to what we've been through. We can get through anything."
The Wauchope junior regularly travels several kilometres in every 90-minute W-League fixture, so 150 kilometres in three days will be a significant challenge.
But the resulting sore legs and calves will be a minor inconvenience compared to the people she is walking for.
It's a mental battle far more than a physical one.
"My aunt will do it as will one of my really good friends so it will be good to have them by my side and a reminder you're never in this alone," she said.
"We just call it a speed bump and remain really positive; we tell ourselves this is going to be a story we're going to tell our kids one day."- Rhali Dobson
"It's just going to raise more awareness about the Mark Hughes Foundation because what they do is phenomenal.
"Brain cancer is so much more common than people know and a lot of people have it or have had it but you don't know about it because they keep it quite close to their chest.
"Walking 150 kilometres is going to be different to playing a 90-minute high-intensity soccer game, so I'm hoping I last.
"But being on that journey with other people and knowing they have been touched by brain cancer in some way, shape or form will be worth it."
After being a support person through her partner's battle, the 28-year-old said it was important for people who were in a similar situation to take care of themselves.
"If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of your other half or family member," she said.
"Make sure you take time to do things you enjoy and remember it's okay to not be okay and it's okay to be struggling.
"It's okay to get counselling because you can't put that pressure back on your partner. You need to have that objective outlet.
"I wish I used that more back in 2015."
The crew of 15 who will walk from Sydney to Newcastle will finish at McDonald Jones Stadium ahead of the Newcastle Knights' clash with the New Zealand Warriors on June 19.
"Brain cancer is one of the leading cancers and we need to find a cure because there isn't one," she said.
"For us, it's really important every year when it rolls around because the Mark Hughes Foundation has been fantastic to us along the way."
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