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M. SAMANTHA WILLS FOUNDATION

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CONTRIBUTORS

EVERYONE HAS A STORY TO TELL

It's About Us: Jo Marx

Samantha Wills

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It’s About Us founder Jo Marx shares her story behind the not-for-profit organisation, and how it continues to challenge and reward her life.

What is your background, and how did you come to start It’s About Us?

My background is in adverting and marketing.

It's About Us was the vision of my husband, who is a medical oncologist. His work and his patients were our inspiration. 

We were inspired by their outlook and attitude while dealing with a difficult and uncertain situation. Our aim is to continue to help make the lives of those who have been affected by cancer easier.

We are passionate about making a real difference to those affected by cancer.


Did you ever think you’d end up in a not-for-profit role?

No, I never thought I'd end up in a not for profit role. It is definitely the most rewarding role that I have had.


What is the ‘why’ of this organisation?

We continually try to help make the lives of those who have been affected by cancer easier. 

Creating an It’s About Us book is a way to try and deal with the many stages and emotions that someone dealing with cancer goes through. A cancer diagnosis has a ripple effect; it affects not only patients but also partners, children, communities, work colleagues, families and friends.  

Every patient is different and has a unique experience. We strive to provide them with an opportunity to create something that is relevant and meaningful to each individual. 


This unique template based book provides a way to document memories, feelings, emotions and important messages in a beautiful personalised way.

At time a when people often feel lonely and isolated we are committed to providing a way for them to connect with like-minded people and a variety of support organisations who can provide the emotional and psychological assistance they need.

We are passionate about making a real difference to those affected by cancer.


Can you tell us a bit about the community that you’re now a part of through your work?

I feel inspired every day. This community brings out the best in each other. The nurses, allied health and medical staff give the most compassionate care. The patients I've had the privilege of meeting continue to inspire me. Their courage, wisdom, insights and clarity of what is truely important and meaningful is something that I am in awe of. There is very little self pity or complaining, rather a sense of gratitude for the things that they do have. It has taught me valuable lessons. Thirdly, there are the people who work in the not-for-profit and charity community. Some are volunteers, some are survivors, and some just want to make a difference. They are generous, supportive and passionate and the reason I love what I do. 

What’s been the most surprising part of this journey?

The most surprising part of the journey? This is not a simple answer. Firstly, how hard it was to be taken seriously and how we had to continuously keep knocking on doors to try and get our project up and running. Convincing people that this would work, and be something to take seriously. I was surprised by how hard it is to be heard and to stand out in this very crowded space. The best surprise of the journey has been my faith in humanity. Connecting with people who have the same values and who are trying to help make the lives of those dealing with cancer easier. The support of those who we have asked for services and donations has been incredible. The organisations who have understood that is about the power of collaboration and have joined forces with us have made it so worthwhile. Seeing women empowering each other and working together for a greater good.

It sounds like such rewarding work, but also like it would be emotionally tough at times – do you ever need to step back and have a break? If so, what do you do?

The work that we do is extremely rewarding. I've met very special people who continue to inspire me. There are times when it is emotionally tough. We've built close relationships and friendships with people and it's hard not to get emotionally attached. It's times like this that I try and reflect, regroup and focus on the positives. We try and take breaks or do things together as a family. It might be an impromptu picnic dinner at the beach, a game of mini golf, family game night, movie or a weekend away. Giving the kids an enormous hug and letting them how how much you love them definitely helps.  Life is precious and it's a constant reminder to never take anything for granted. Time is the only thing we can never get back.

What does the next few years look like for It’s About Us?

Our vision for the next few years is to be providing support to as many people dealing with cancer as possible. Supporting them through relevant, informative, social, inclusive events that connect patients and help alleviate their loneliness, anxiety and feelings of isolation. Establish a number of key financial partners, ensuring the long term sustainability and longevity of the charity.  Strengthen our existing strategic partnerships and continue to create new alliances in the health and wellbeing sector. Provide the opportunity for anyone affected by cancer to create a book and document their own unique story. 

You can read more about It’s About Us here.