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EXCLUSIVE: Carrie Bickmore reveals the heartache she still feels at the death of her husband, as she launches her Beanies for Brain Cancer charity drive

The Aussie TV host is launching her next Beanies for Brain Cancer campaign.
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Carrie Bickmore first put on her now iconic blue beanie when she won her TV WEEK Gold Logie award back in 2015.

Since then, Carrie’s Beanies for Brain Cancer has launched and raised millions of dollars.

TV WEEK speaks to the inspiring mum about her hopes and heartache as she continues to advocate for Brain Cancer research.

TVWEEK: Carrie, Are you proud of what you’ve achieved in those five years?

Carrie: When I did that speech I didn’t want to raise money, just simply awareness. Now five years on we are on target to raise hopefully 18 million.

I have no words to be completely honest, but at the same time the most sobering part of the whole thing is that in five years survival rates haven’t changed, so it’s not going to take a million dollars or a Logies speech to change it – it’s going to take sustained funding over decades.

I think that’s why I am motivated more than ever. There has been incredible work done behind the scenes and thankfully the scientists have more money, but we are dealing with a cancer that is insidious. I think that is the sobering part, to be honest.

Carrie’s 2020 Beanie campaign has just launched.

(Campbell Knott)

Being the face of the campaign each year means you have to go back to a time in your life that was extremely hard for you and talk about losing your husband Greg Lange to brain cancer. Is hard for you to mentally go to that place each year?

100 per cent. I think it’s why it took me a long time to talk about it in the very first instance.

It’s a lot. But every time I feel overwhelmed I get an email or a message or a meet someone who shares their story with me and I think ‘this is why, this is why’, it’s all those stories, they give me energy to keep doing it.

Not only has the charity grown so much in the last five years, but in your personal life so much has happened. Your daughter Evie was six weeks old when you won Gold, does she know the work you have done since then?

She wouldn’t have any concept of the speech, what she watches is Bluey [laughs] but in terms of how she process the topic of brain cancer, it’s something that is discussed in our home in a very real way, and in an age appropriate way.

She wears her beanie and knows what it’s about, she just sees me as mum and doesn’t see the other side of who I am.

I’m still just the one to get her to brush her teeth and go to bed.

Carries beanie speech will go down in Logies history.

In terms of the beanies you sell each year, they are snapped up in a matter of days. How does that feel?

I feel sick every time we go on sale because I stress we won’t sell any. I always say no to increase the amount we sell [laughs]. But I’m not the numbers person. It is always a stress.

This year I don’t know what to expect because we are in a tricky time.

We were meant to do our campaign three months ago and it wasn’t the right time with COVID-19.

We weren’t sure if we could resurrect the campaign.

It’s a tough time and some people really want to support us and always have and they can’t and that is OK.

If people can that’s awesome. More than anything I want people to know that brain cancer isn’t stopping because of COVID-19, people are still being diagnosed and dying.

It’s strange times for everyone. For me it makes me emotional that people would be willingly to spend their money on a beanie and understand why it’s so important.

And everybody has their causes that are important to them and has touched them and I really understand that, I myself have other causes that mean a lot to me, different family members have been touched by disease and mental health issues and all those things.

From the night you put the beanie on and five years later, your partner Chris Walker has been by your side supporting you. How much has that support meant, considering this topic takes you back to a time in your life when Chris wasn’t in it?

It literally wouldn’t be possible without that support. He like many people understands loss and suffered his own loss in life and I think he just has a huge amount of compassion and he will always be incredibly supportive of me and for our family.

And yes, it was a time when he wasn’t around, but it was a time that was huge in my life and he loves me and he will do whatever I need to make sure I can do what I need to do to change the statistics.

I think grief and loss isn’t something that happens and then it stops.

Anyone who has experienced any loss of any kind will tell you that it stays with you for the rest of your life, so you need to find ways to incorporate your new life and your future.

It’s not before and after. And I’ll be there to support him in his life as we will for our kids. I think that’s why I love him so much and why I guess I don’t take it for granted because I couldn’t do anything without him.

Your son Ollie must be so proud of the work you are doing in memory of his dad, and keen to get everyone to wear a beanie!

I think that’s the beautiful thing about a beanie, it’s something for kids to show their support and compassion and connection to it in a way that is hopeful.

For him I am very aware that I want him to grow up to be a happy boy and I don’t want him to feel a burden of anything.

But he is so connected to it because it was his dad. He can do a simple thing and put a beanie on and feels that connection. And he wears it so proudly. It’s a really lovely thing.

It comes in handy that you have three gorgeous kids to be part of the campaign this year.

We have some great kids who were part of the campaign photoshoot.

Kids are so hopeful and their energy is such a positive energy and every time we do the campaign with the kids I think that’s why we are doing it.

So the future for these kids can be different. I love seeing families buying it. It’s very heart warming.

WATCH: Carrie Bickmore’s adorable video of daughter Adelaide:

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