It started innocently enough with a headache one Friday in early September, 2016, that Gladstone mum Natalie Baldwin quickly shook off.
A week later, as her husband Bruce prepared to go on nightshift at the Gladstone Ports Corporation, he froze as Natalie came out of the bedroom “looking like she had had a stroke”.
“So, they raced her to hospital around 4pm and she had a Cat scan where they found a tumour on her brain and by 6pm she had passed out and never recovered from that,” Bruce told Gladstone Today.
“They ended up taking her to the Royal Women’s hospital in Brisbane by air ambulance where she stayed on life support for 15 days until she went to palliative care when they said there was nothing else they could do.
“The brain tumour caused an aneurism and she was only 48.
“The tumour itself was in the back part of the brain controlling breathing and your heart, so the neuro specialist down there said if the aneurism didn’t get her, the tumour would anyway and he said it was actually a quick way for her to go because she didn’t know anything.”
Natalie died on 17 September, 2016.
“It all started with a headache the week before, that’s why I want to tell people out there to be aware just a headache could be something pretty serious,” Bruce said.
Losing Natalie, his wife for almost 30 years and mother to their four children, has spurred Bruce on to start planning a six-month bicycle ride around Australia to raise money for the Cure Brain Foundation in her memory.
He plans to set off from Gladstone with his second wife Janet as his support crew in March, 2025, on a Trek Checkpoint bike purchased locally from M1 Cycles with the aim of cycling 100km a day.
From Gladstone, he’ll be heading north to Cooktown, then to Normanton, Mt Isa, Darwin, Katherine, Broome, Perth, Esperance, across the Nullabor to South Australia, Adelaide, Mt Gambier, across to Melbourne, Eden, Sydney, Brisbane and then “all the way home”.
“Janet loves the idea… and is going to be towing the car and caravan and supporting me all the way,” Bruce said.
“I’ve been riding pushbikes since I was four years old and used to race BMX for about 20 years with my children.
“Unfortunately I had to stop that about five years ago when I had an accident at work where I broke my back but healed itself now, and while I won’t be going back BMX racing, I still love riding.
“It will be an adventure, it’s something different and a lot of people think I’m mad, but I just think it’s one of those things.
“We all have bucket list items to do, and it’s on my bucket list to do this and if I can make a bit of money for a good charity, that’s well and good too.”