On 27 April a group of intrepid cyclists set off from the Sydney Opera House and rode to Parliament House to raise awareness about lymphoma, Australia's No. 1 blood cancer. The gruelling 330-kilometre ride took them through Mittagong and Goulburn before arriving on 29 April in Canberra.
Jovan Pejic and his twin brother Nikola inspired the inaugural ride in 2011 when Jovan was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's follicular lymphoma at the age of 25. Riding with them this year was the host of The X factor, Luke Jacobz and NRL player Jamie Simpson who is also a lymphoma patient and came along as part of the support crew. At the finish line, where half of Canberra's Serbian community seemed to be, it was great to see the relief and joy on the faces of the riders when they knew the journey was complete.
The riders not only raised awareness about the disease but also raised $50,000 towards the cause. While survival rates from lymphoma have improved significantly over the past couple of decades, a new lymphoma diagnosis is made every two hours, and every six hours another Australian dies from this cancer. I commend the Opera 2 Parliament team for their great efforts and look forward to following their journey again next year, and I also welcome them back to Canberra.