February 23, 2015

A Tribute to Peter Tuffield

By Shane Talbot

Shane and TuffySadly Peter “Tuffy” Tuffield lost his battle with lung cancer in April 2014 after a brave fight. When I mentioned lung cancer, what was the first thought which came to your mind? If it was a “smoker’s disease” then that is truly understandable. But actually, 20% of people diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked and this was the case with my mate Tuffy. He had just retired after 40 years in the workforce when he developed a cough. Six months later after innumerable tests Tuffy was finally diagnosed with lung cancer. His lung cancer was not smoke related, direct nor passive and like myself, he was a never smoker.

As Tuffy commenced his treatment journey I wanted to give my mate something positive to focus on while he fought the demon within, thus Tuffy’s Kokoda Challenge was born. Tuffy started out as a reluctant bride at the altar of positive participation, however over time he became his own biggest advocate, and with him, his family. Tuffy’s positive participation extended to helping others who found themselves on a similar journey.

The links to Kokoda were many. I had crossed the track a couple of times before launching Tuffy’s Kokoda Challenge. Four words engraved on the Granite War Memorial at Isurava village – Courage, Endurance, Mateship, Sacrifice – the site of a major Kokoda battle have really stuck with me. This is something I reflected upon many times during Tuffy’s journey with lung cancer.

Our original target of $70,000 represented the 70 year anniversary of the beginning of the Kokoda Campaign in July 1942. I undertook the first Tuffy’s Kokoda Challenge in July 2012, followed by Tuffy’s youngest son Daniel in 2013. At the time of his eldest son Chris’s 2014 crossing we had already lost Tuffy. However Tuffy always knew the 2014 crossing would continue even if he was no longer with us.

We are very proud of our success in fundraising and at last count we will have raised just over $80,000. Daniel raised just short of $10,000 for his 2013 crossing and at last count Chris has raised $20,000 and growing. We are not done yet. Tuffy’s legacy will continue but possibly in another format. Tuffy’s Kokoda Challenge would like to thank everyone who has supported us throughout the past few years.