When I receive a phone call from the head office of the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation, it is usually to talk about an upcoming fundraiser or presentation – not to ask if I own a house. A few years ago that was the very phone call I received as I had been secretly nominated to have my house renovated by the contestants on that year of the Nine Network’s “The Block” as part of their Domestic Blitz Special- The Block to the Rescue. However, I didn’t own a house and the team at the ACCF knew that but wanted to double check before they declined the offer. As I was chatting when them someone said “…didn’t your sister have Cervical Cancer?”, which she did. I mentioned she was the driving force, along with my Mum, to ensure I got regular Pap Tests and I was lucky enough to have both of them by my side during my journey.
So we got thinking – could we change what was supposed to be a surprise for me and re-nominate my sister Jeanette? There were no guarantees but after an email was sent off to the producers of The Block, we found out that they loved the idea. For the next couple of months my husband Rav, and I had many secret meetings about Jeanette, her family, house, work and social life to put everything together. I had to cold call some of her friends and even rocked up to some of their houses unannounced to get their help so we could pull off the biggest surprise possible.
Then the big day of the surprise arrived. I had organised to give a talk for the ACCF and asked Jeanette to come with me and give a talk as well. Jeanette thought the room was full of women simply wanting to know more about Cervical Cancer and what the ACCF does – but little did she know that there was a team from the Nine Network there.
My nerves started to set in worrying that Jeanette may not want anyone to change her house but it was too late to worry about that. 15 minutes into the talk the one and only Scott Cam walked in with cameras asking for Jeanette. It is not often that she is lost for words and all Jeanette could do was cover her mouth in shock. Scott talked about what an amazing mother, daughter, sister and friend she is and that she deserved to have her luck turned around. There were plenty of tears in the room as Scotty explained that her family would be sent on a holiday to the Gold Coast while Alisa, Lysandra, Madi, Jarrod, Matt, Kim, Bec, George, Johnno and Trixie, along with the help of Shaynna Blaze and Darren Palmer transformed their home.
Jeanette was then whisked away after meeting all of the contestants in a stretch pink Hummer to go home and pack for their trip. Rav and I were put straight to work on the house with the contestants and got to experience what life on The Block was like for a couple of days. We got to sit down with the contestants and talk them through Jeanette’s styling for her home, go through colour palettes, look at furniture and design ideas and along the way learned so much more than we thought possible in a short period of time. On the final day though, I got my own surprise.
Rav and I arrived at the house for another day of renovating but after an hour I was asked to meet Scotty out the front. There was a camera, a car and producers telling me to go with them to the city. We arrived at Melbourne’s famous Bourke Street Mall where we waited for the pink stretch Hummer as Jeanette was also being dropped off. The Block producers had organised for us to go on a shopping spree in Myer as well as have our hair and make up done ahead of the big reveal.
After all the hard work from the contestants, judges and trades – they had totally transformed the house and did the dream extension Jeanette had always wanted. Since then, the house has been our family hub for social gatherings. The swim spa and decking put in the backyard has helped make the summers even more enjoyable at their house and none of this would have been possible without the team from the Nine Network and the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation. To this day I do not know who nominated me, but I am so thankful I was able to pass the nomination onto Jeanette. We are forever thankful for receiving such a wonderful gift that felt like winning the lottery for the entire family.