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Daffodil Day turns 30

Daffodil Day Generic Photo 2

Daffodil Day turns 30

Supporting the Cancer Society for Daffodil Day has never been easier. 

When making an online donation at supporters will receive a digital daffodil that they can dedicate to a loved one affected by cancer and share on social media.

Since 1990, Daffodil Day has been an iconic day in the Cancer Society calendar. It is a day which symbolises hope and inspires people and communities to come together and support the Cancer Society’s work.

Your donations help:
to raise awareness of cancer in New Zealand,
to support patients with cancer and their families,
fund lifesaving cancer research, and
help reduce the incidence of cancer for our children and grandchildren.

Even more important, the money raised in your community stays in your community. So be proud that you’re making a difference to those that matter most and are closest to you.

1 in 3 New Zealanders are affected by cancer. Donate today to help people living with cancer at

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Celebrating 30 years of Daffodil Day volunteering 

For 30 years volunteers have been the heart and soul of Daffodil Day. Since 1990, large numbers of people in our communities have coordinated Daffodil Day sites in their local areas to help the Cancer Society raise vital funds.

Today we highlight Isabel Anderson as one volunteer, amongst many, who has been involved with Daffodil Day from the very beginning. Isabel began fundraising for the Cancer Society in 1989 when her Mum was sick. She recalls the day she was asked if she wanted to be an East Otago Coordinator as the Cancer Society was “planning to organise an annual fundraising day called Daffodil Day”.

Isabel Volunteer Story

“I said yes, and the next thing I knew I was distributing collection buckets and daffodils, running a site in Palmerston on the day and then collecting all the buckets and banking it the following week!”

It soon became apparent to Isabel that more help was needed. “It was school holidays, so I enlisted the help of my 13-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter” remembers Isabel. “We had fresh daffodils and metal badges to sell, and my husband took a day’s leave to count the money with the local bank manager.  Hubby ended up making soup and bringing it down to us regularly during the day as it was the coldest Daffodil Day I have experienced, with sleet, hail and a strong southerly all day.”

For the next few years, the Anderson family coped but were grateful when friends began to offer to help.  Isabel soon had a full roster of volunteers.

In 2004 the first Daffodil Day Bear, Albert was introduced with great success. Over the years, Isabel has sold all sorts of official and locally donated merchandise - badges, tea towels, t-shirts, soaps, even pottery. “The takings for my area improved every year, increasing from about $200+ to a few thousand dollars in recent years.”

As the scale and popularity of Daffodil Day increased, Isabel’s original fundraising area was split across several volunteer area coordinators. Isabel is still very active in all aspects of Daffodil Day, helping with pre-sales, bunching and deliveries.

Thirty years on and Isabel and her colleagues show no sign of waning in their commitment to helping us fundraise for Daffodil Day.  We want to thank Isabel and those who spend months each year coordinating their area, for continuing to support our work in Otago & Southland.

Please donate this Daffodil Day so the Cancer Society can continue to reduce the impact and incident of cancer –



Daffodil Day turns 30 - Cancer Society Demand Increases

Since the first Daffodil Day in 1990, the yearly rate of cancer incidence has doubled, and it’s expected to climb further.

“Every day, 60 New Zealanders will find out they have cancer. With demand for the Cancer Society’s services increasing, support is needed more than ever. Daffodil Day symbolises hope and inspires communities to come together to support people living with cancer” says Bob King, Acting CE of the Cancer Society, Otago and Southland Division.

Shelley Gerken was told she had cancer in February 2020 and shares her story with us.

Shelley Gerken 1

“That’s not normal Shelley” are words that will stick in my head for the rest of my life. I was perimenopausal and had experienced heavy bleeding for 18 months, which I thought was normal until I haemorrhaged. My GP did full bloods and referred me for an ultrasound the next day.

My GP phoned me; there was something abnormal in my uterus and in one ovary. I was referred to a gynaecologist and underwent a biopsy and smear with an appointment the next day for a CT scan.

The results revealed a tumour the size of an orange in my uterus. The rest of the meeting is a BLURRRRRR. My husband was there, fortunately, to retain the information because when I heard the “C” word, I went into shock.

Driving home, I remember being angry and screaming in the car. How could I have all these tumours, plus cancerous fluid around my liver, from what I thought was just early menopause! I was 47 years old and hadn’t been feeling unwell.

My husband and I were flown to Christchurch the day before Covid-19 lockdown. Being the only passengers, it was like our own private jet. The Christchurch Women’s Hospital told me I had stage four Carcinoma Sarcoma of the Endometrium. My world collapsed that day. Covid-19 lockdown toilet paper fiascos didn’t mean much to me! 

I decided I was going to fight this boots ‘n’ all and be as positive as I could. I had a one-off radiation treatment to stop my bleeding and then three rounds of chemo. My Oncologist told me I would lose my hair, so I decided to take control of this one thing.

To support the valuable work the Cancer Society does to help people living with cancer, I set up a “Brave the Shave” page for Mother’s Day. My daughters cut my ponytails on Monday, 20 April.  Support was overwhelming, with $3,616 raised for the Cancer Society.

During lockdown, I attended many appointments with no support person allowed. The endless questions, radiation, blood tests, a PICC line and 2-3 chemo cycles by myself was scary.

My Motto is to ‘kick this sh...t to the curb’ and so I attended my first chemo round in steel-cap- boots, having spent hours wearing them to help build our new home in the last 18 months.

Once everyone returned to semi normality after lockdown, I spent a lot of hours home alone with our new puppy, a great distraction for our family. Creating Diamond Dotz paintings also helped to fill in the days.

Meeting with my counsellor has been beneficial to talk through the rollercoaster of emotions. When people ask, “how long have you been sick?”. I say, “I haven’t been sick” and still struggle with the realisation that I have cancer and that I am losing my hair due to chemo.

I look forward to the “LOOK GOOD FEEL BETTER” class run at the Cancer Society. I’ve lost my eyebrows, so can’t wait to learn to draw myself new ones. I am also creating a heart wall. So far, I have 22 hearts hanging to acknowledge each procedure and treatment I have had.

Three rounds of chemo showed a significant reduction to the tumour, but I need a further three. The Cancer Society has been invaluable, along with my GP, Women’s Health and the Oncology Team. Thank you to you all for your love, support and encouragement, especially my family and friends who have been incredible. I shall fight on.

Angela Melrose, from the Cancer Society’s Supportive Care Team, has been supporting Shelley through her cancer journey. “Receiving a cancer diagnosis and having treatment is never easy. Everyone needs some support, and we are here to offer the help you need.”

Daffodil Day symbolises hope for Shelley and all New Zealanders impacted by cancer.  For 30 years, this iconic event has inspired people to come together and support the Cancer Society’s work.

Donations can be made at, at any ANZ branch during August, or during the street appeal on Friday, 28 August.