Anthony “Anno” Avery (1982-2008) – The Untold Story
Anno was a young Aboriginal man, and proud of the colour of his skin and his culture. One thing he disliked was racism against Aboriginal people. He had friends of all shapes, sizes, colours and backgrounds.
Anthony was born in Sydney, raised in Redfern, and moved to Taree, his mother’s birthplace, when he was 15.
From an early age, it was clear that Anno was a gifted athlete. During his sporting career, he represented Australia three times in touch football and North Coast in rugby league and dabbled in AFL.
He was famous for his speed, agility, passion and beaming smile. Anno was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2007, after a long period of losing weight, feeling sick and bleeding from the bowel. He was initially diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, although Anno felt quite sure it was something more.
After seeing a television interview with a former player diagnosed with bowel cancer, he knew that’s what he had. Further tests confirmed his fears. Anno was a very fit athlete and did not smoke, drink alcohol or use drugs.
Despite this, his bowel cancer was too far advanced by the time he was correctly diagnosed. His family are passionate supporters of Cancer Council NSW and our work to connect with Aboriginal communities.
One of Anno’s impassioned final messages was: “If you’re sick, see the doctor straight away and make sure they listen.”
Anno was a loving father to Britney, his four-year-old daughter – and son, brother, uncle and friend. He is greatly missed and loved by his family and all who knew him. A small Cancer Council grant to Anthony’s mother, Mindy, allowed her to publish a book honouring Anno’s life and raising awareness of cancer in the Aboriginal community. A room named in Anthony’s honour was unveiled during a smoking ceremony at our Woolloomooloo offices in 2011. Cancer Council acknowledges the ongoing dedication and support of the Avery family to our mission.
(Photo: Anthony’s parents, Anthony Senior and Mindy)