Birthday: May 4, 1966
Died At Age: 42
Sun Sign: Taurus
Born in: Paignton
Famous as: England-born Australian cancer support campaigner
Spouse/Ex-: Glenn McGrath
Died on: June 22, 2008
place of death: Cronulla
Founder/Co-Founder: McGrath Foundation
Who was Jane McGrath?
Though Jane McGrath gained limelight as the wife of the great Australian cricket fast bowler Glenn McGrath, it was her battle with cancer and her work as an activist and campaigner that made her a legendary figure. Her life is an inspiration for many others. Born in England, Jane first met the Australian cricketer in Hong Kong. She moved to Australia to live with him. While initially, life seemed all good; in 1997 she got the shocking news that she had breast cancer. Strong and resilient, Jane failed to let the disease overpower her and battled hard to win over it. She was successful and was declared cancer-free within a year but fate had something else in store. A couple of years later, she was yet again diagnosed with cancer and brain tumor which finally led to her death. However, in her later years, Jane did not act as a victim but a fighter. Despite her deteriorating health, she put a brave foot forward and relentlessly fought the cancer. Along with Glenn McGrath, she started the McGrath Foundation to increase awareness about cancer in women, encourage them for regular health check-ups and raise money to place breast care nurses in communities’ right across Australia
Childhood & Early Life
Jane McGrath was born as Jane Louise Steele on May 4, 1966 to Jen and Roy Steele in Paignton, Devon England.
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After completing her education, she worked as a flight attendant for Virgin Atlantic Airways.
In 1995, it was while chilling out at a night club called Joe Banana in Hong Kong that she first met Glenn McGrath. The two were immediately hooked to each other so much so that, after a couple of months, she left England to live with him in Australia.
All seemed happy for Jane until August 1997 when she first felt a lump that caused soreness and discomfort in her left breast. The two were on the Ashes Tour. A visit to the doctor confirmed her fear as she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Though she offered to end the relationship and fly back to England to face the problem all alone, Glenn wouldn’t hear of it. He promised to be at her side all through, helping her cope with the feeling of fear, despair and shock that came with the news.
Having no choice, she unwillingly underwent a mastectomy (removal of the breast) which was followed with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. By June 1998, she was finally diagnosed as being cancer-free.
The personal health turmoil left a deep impact on Jane. Nevertheless, she emerged stronger and resilient. While she was on remission, she penned the book, ‘A Love for Life’ which was very well received.
The McGraths, married since 1999, started campaigning for cancer research and by 2002, established the McGrath Foundation with an objective to support other Australian women who have been a victim of breast cancer. Through the foundation, they intended to increase awareness and raise money to place breast care nurses in communities’ right across Australia.
Jane felt passionate about empowering women under 40 to take control of their health by getting regular check-up, as early detection would mean better treatment. She also conducted regular breast check camps.
The relief of being cancer-free did not last long. Jane was suffering from hip pain and in 2003 she underwent a check-up. She was diagnosed with metastatic disease in her bone. Immediately thereafter, she underwent radiotherapy.
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Though the secondary cancer went into remission, in 2006, routine scans picked up further cancers in other parts. By May 2006, she underwent radiation treatment once in three-week interval which led to baldness and as a result of her baldness, she went into depression.
Adding to the woes, she was detected with a brain tumour. Post the treatment, the tumour was successfully removed. Meanwhile, Glenn had resumed his cricketing career but the depleting health of his wife led him to announce his retirement from the game after the 2007 World Cup.
She yet again went into remission and continued working as an active cancer campaigner and activist, supporting women all through the country.
Jane McGrath, with her hubby Glenn McGrath, started the McGrath Foundation, which aims at increasing awareness about cancer in women, encouraging them for regular health check-ups and raising money to place breast care nurses in communities’ right across Australia.
Personal Life & Legacy
It was while Jane was in Hong Kong during one of her work travels that she first met Glenn McGrath, at a night club Joe Bananas, in the city in 1995. The two hit it off instantly. A few months after their first meeting, she soon followed him to Australia to live with him.
In 1999, the two tied the nuptials at the Garrison Church. Despite being told that chemotherapy would leave her infertile, she went on to have two sons, James and Holly.
In mid-June 2008, her health worsened as she became severally ill. Succumbing to cancer, she finally breathed her last on June 22, 2008 at her Cornulla home with her husband and children by her side. Her funeral was held at Garrison Church.
Posthumously, the Sydney Cricket Ground has devoted the third day of the first Sydney test match every year to the Jane McGrath Foundation.
Interestingly, even after living with Glenn for the first few days in Australia, Jane wasn’t aware of McGrath’s popularity as world’s greatest fast bowler. She only assumed him to be a popular guy who has a lot of friends. It was during a party at a friend’s place that Jane actually came to terms with his celebrity status.