By Len Gazzard

BORN in Bega Hospital in 1951 and raised in Bemboka, the eldest child of four to Margaret and Jack Hobbs, Christine was educated in the Bemboka Primary, Bega High and University of NSW where she obtained a degree in Economics.

Christine commenced work as a high school teacher in Sydney, changed to IBM and then the Urban Transport Study Group before being enticed to Tweed Heads in 1976 by Len Gazzard who was working for NSW Public Works on coast and river surveys.

Married in 1977, she returned to teaching and a short period in Markwell Fisheries at Tweed Heads before giving up work to raise a family which she considered the remaining major goal in her life.

After five carefree years in Tweed Heads and two children, Tim and Tobey, Len and Christine returned to Bemboka in 1981.

Len saw the beauty of the valley and the open space the ideal place to raise a family.

They settled on a small farm to the north of the Bemboka township and Christine’s third child, Arthur, was born in 1983.

In 1985, her fourth child, Kerry, joined the family at age seven following the untimely death of her parents, Barry and Beryl Britten.

Late in 1984 Christine’s mum, Margaret died at age 57 and Christine joined her Dad, Jack in the running of the family store.

This was an intense seven-year period in her life juggling work and raising a young family.

Ever conscious of her role as a mum, she still found time to provide variety in her children’s lives, reading, playing games, weekends on the coast and the annual cultural visits to Sydney.

With the children all at school, Christine relinquished her role in Hobbs Store in 1991 to go back to her first love, working with little children.

She saw an opportunity to be involved in reading recovery – a targeted early intervention reading program for children from the ages of five to seven years

It we are lucky, we find a niche in work that becomes a passion for life.

Christine found this passion in reading recovery.

As a one-to-one program, Christine was able to reach into the hearts and minds of these children to spark their own individual enthusiasm.

Totally dedicated to this task she fought to retain reading recovery in the small schools by creating a model program sharing reading recovery between three schools, Bemboka, Candelo and Wyndham.

Often eating lunch on the move she clocked up 40,000 kilometres a year on the round trip between the schools.

Her first red and then grey Nimbus became a regular to those who lived and worked along the roads over the nine years in reading recovery.

Myrtle Mountain was her favourite drive with its year round greenery and ever changing weather.

During this time Christine developed an interest in local history.

As an avid collector of early family photographs, Christine showed some enthusiasm to celebrate the Bemboka School Centenary with a book.

As part of a team, in February 1996, a 320 page book “Bemboka – Village in a Valley” was produced documenting the history of education and life in Bemboka from 1840 to 1996.

Along with history tours of the district, the book was a highlight of the celebrations.

With a growing interest in pioneer family history, Christine came up with the idea of creating a pioneer walk in the Bemboka Park.

The walk featured concrete replicas of milestones with granite plaques of the early pioneers set in landscaped native gardens.

Invitations were sent to relatives over Australia to contribute to the construction and a special opening with hundreds of relatives occurred on Easter weekend of 1999.

The opening was an example of Christine’s dedication to completing a task.

It was also a demonstration of her commitment to Bemboka and the “sense of place” she believed the walk created for the children of this Valley.

Five months later with Kerry working in real estate, her eldest son Tim at ANU doing Environmental Science, Tobey working in hospitality on Hamilton Island and Arthur in Year 10 at Hurlstone Agricultural High, Christine, in September of 1999, found a lump in her left breast.

Initially thought to be a form of mastitis, it grew very rapidly in a matter of weeks and a scan indicated a possible cancer.

Confronted with a disease that the medical profession had yet to find a reliable cure, Christine decided to improve the odds by following the road of the long term survivors.

Her research on long term survivors indicated success could be achieved by a rigorous program to improve the body’s strength and cleansing ability; a positive attitude and by finding peace within herself.

In her search for information, she joined the Cancer Information Support Society in Sydney and the Cancer Natural Therapy Foundation in Victoria.

She sought advice from holistic doctors and nutritionists with experience in cancer treatment.

She also attended a 10-day residential at the Gawler Foundation in Victoria, a non-profit organisation set up to help people affected by cancer.

Christine decided against conventional treatment.

She believed in the natural ability of the body to heal itself.

She also decided to do this in her own home, believing that if she was institutionalised she would lose control of the process.

In her words she “would be driving her own bus”.

It proved to be a lonely road.

She could find only two others with breast cancer who had taken this approach, one in South Australia and one in Queensland.

Following Gawler, Christine refined her diet, increasing her fresh fruit, vegetable, juice, mineral, vitamin and water intake.

She explored the whole range of alternative treatments to improve her immune response, prevent infection, cleanse the body and eliminate the cancer microbe.

She took up meditation and practised positive imagery.

Christine reluctantly gave up her beloved reading recovery work to concentrate fully on her healing program.

She was able to maintain a good body condition over the first 14-months, taking on new programs and dropping others in search of the best combination for her.

Although the breast cancer continued to grow over this period, she had many healing reactions, the strongest being an extensive rash on the upper body.

In each reaction the cancer appeared to subside for awhile, before growing again.

Christine throughout the period showed remarkable courage and determination.

She had no fear of the outcome, maintaining a 100% conviction she would eventually heal.

In October 2000, she developed secondaries appearing first in the lymph glands indicating the cancer microbe had probably spread from the primary site.

Christine’s response was to take a month’s holiday, travelling on a reminiscing journey to Tweed Heads and then to intensify the program.

On return to Bemboka she moved to the coast at Mogareeka for the summer.

She now felt ready to undertake a more rigorous cleansing.

She completed a juice only cleanse, designed to starve out the cancers.

She lost considerable weight.

By mid-February Christine was very excited as a large part of the primary cancer in the breast came away.

Her dedication to the program had finally won out.

Having beaten the primary cancer she was now on the way back.

She began planning her future, writing letters to promote community projects and spending long periods on the telephone organising life following recovery.

However, a month later, she was still losing weight.

With little energy and now confined to bed, she drew deep into herself in one last go to rid the mind and body of the remaining cancers.

On a warm Easter Sunday morning the sun danced through the leaves of the spotted gum trees onto her bed.

With the sounds of the waves breaking on the beach in the distance, a gentle sea breeze found its way past the angel of life waiting patiently at the window.

In the company of her children and myself singing her favourite healing song, Christine’s soul left her body.

Christine never gave up her positive attitude she would heal.

She won the battle, I believe in mind and spirit, but sadly lost the war against the body.

The body had become too damaged to recover.

While perhaps denied the opportunity to help others in their journey through cancer, she packed much into her bag of life in the 25-years with me and no doubt in the 25-years gaining her womanhood before we met.

An intensively private person, Christine was cremated in Canberra on Tuesday, April 17.

It was her wish to have her ashes released back into nature on Moons Beach in the Mimosa Rocks National Park near Mogareeka.

In a simple ceremony with her four children and the beach to ourselves on a sunny morning of April 23, 2001, I read:

“In the past eighteen months Mum trod her own path in the search for healing. Whilst she was not successful in leaving a trail for others to follow, we will remember her as one who committed 100% to every task she undertook.

“In other people’s words, as expressed on one of the many cards of sympathy we received, we will also remember Christine as a kind, gentle and caring person : attributes of life that some would say are our souls only purpose for existence in this early form.

“From these ashes let the energy of her life be returned to nature to renew natures energy and let the memory of Christine be held in this, her favourite place and in our hearts forever.”

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