Steve's Story

The RMH Foundation and Dry July Foundation’s decade long collaboration has successfully raised nearly $1.4 million in funds for the comfort and wellbeing of cancer patients at The Royal Melbourne Hospital. 2020 has been a challenging year for Australia and the rest of the world, with medically vulnerable patients facing increased uncertainty.

For RMH cancer patient, Steve Mahoney, life has changed dramatically after he received his diagnosis in July 2019. After discovering a mouth ulcer, he went straight to the doctor. Steve considers himself a fighter, so the word ‘cancer’ did not frighten him. While both Steve and his wife of 12 years, Robyn were prepared for the battle, they admitted they did not know anything about head and neck cancer, or what lay ahead as they drove to the RMH from the Mornington Peninsula for treatment. Steve soon had to give up working in the panel beating business in preparation for the many months of surgery and treatment.

Steve’s cancer resulted in many complications – infections, jaw dislocation, two tracheotomies, all within six months in and out of the hospital. One of the operations was longer than 12 hours. At one point, Steve had to prepare for the worst and organise his affairs. It was a stressful time, and he owes his strength to Robyn’s support. He told us that he would leave messages for Robyn on a whiteboard before going into each surgery telling her how he wouldn’t be able to get through these challenges without her.

Steve was a Rugby League player from Townsville and moved down to Melbourne to be with Robyn. He and Robyn used to lead a busy social life and spent every week from Thursday to Sunday night, entertaining their friends.Due to the Coronavirus restrictions and the cancer treatments, all of this has made Steve reflect on his life and he likes nothing more than sitting on the porch holding hands with Robyn.The other difficult thing for Steve is eating. He is currently tube feeding and tells us how much he really misses eating food properly, especially steak


When Steve heard about the Dry July campaign, he did not hesitate to sign up as an ambassador.

“The staff were amazing and kept me informed every step of the way, especially when I had my tracheotomies. Robyn was by my side every night at the hospital. When the COVID-19 visitor restrictions were introduced, she could only see me for an hour a day but the RMH staff continued to keep her in the loop. We felt so cared for, and the RMH became a ‘safe house’ for us.”

Most importantly, Steve and Robyn want to raise awareness about head and neck cancer and its lasting impacts. To make participation easier in the Dry July challenge this year, the Foundation has made a few changes. Dry(ish) July now allows you to choose how long you go without alcohol. A participant can choose the original 31-day challenge or options of 21, 14, or their own choice of days.

The important part is that no matter how long you choose to go dry for, you will be raising vital funds for people affected by cancer. 2019’s campaign funded a calming and tranquil garden for Palliative Care and numerous patient- care projects for the Head & Neck Ward, and Haematology.The RMH Foundation is ever so grateful to last year’s ambassador, Deane Reynolds and all the participants and supporters for generating over $100,000 for the hospital.

This year is even more significant than ever for our cancer patients. While the threat of COVID-19 is gradually easing, our researchers and healthcare workers are still working around the clock to find a vaccine and ensure every Victorian remains safe and healthy. Sign up to Dry July today to ensure The RMH continue to provide cancer patients with the highest level of comfort and wellbeing during this pandemic.