The Mother's Day Classic is a poignant event for ambassador and Brisbane star midfielder Sophie Conway.
Conway's mother Christine was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, when Sophie was just 13 years old, and dealt with both that and brain cancer until she passed away in 2016.
"I forced my mum to go get checked – she was a midwife, so she knew the reality but didn't want to face it. I encouraged her to get scans," Conway said.
"Our family (father John and brothers Ben and Isaac) battled through the first year, watching her go through chemo, radiation and surgeries. In our eyes, we didn’t think we would see much of mum that year, but she was brave and strong and we were lucky enough to have had another four years with her, we cherished that greatly.
"As an ambassador for Mother’s Day Classic, I want to tell our story, I want to help people, I want to help kids my age who have or are experiencing the same type of loss and emotion."
Last year, Conway – still young at 23 – reached out to manager Alex Saundry and said she was keen to work with Breast Cancer Network Australia to help raise awareness.
"I saw what Mum went through, day in and day out, so if I can play a tiny part, it's nothing compared to what people go through in terms of breast cancer or any kind of cancer.
"All I wanted to do was something little every now and then and try and help BCNA in some regard. For me, it's not nothing, but it's small in the scheme of things, because what they go through every day is something I can't put into words.
"It was eye-opening, from the moment Mum got diagnosed with breast cancer, right till the end. It puts a lot into perspective, so for me to try and jump on board, it was really an easy decision, because they'd done so much for my mum over that time, so I wanted to play a tiny little part and say thank you."
Conway had a career-best season in 2022, averaging 13 disposals and kicking 10 goals from the wing in her 11 matches, having averaged 12 and slotting just the one major last year.
"It's been an interesting one. I felt like I'm always my harshest critic to be honest, so you always find something about your season that you could have done better, but I'm pretty proud of the way I contributed," Conway said.
"I think to add the element of trying to kick some goals as a winger was something I wanted to do, not necessarily just kick goals, but try and get more of those forward entries instead of just playing that defensive role.
"To add those elements to my game, I was pretty pleased about, but now it's about going to another level and being more consistent across 10 rounds of the season and not just bob up here and there."
The Lions were boosted by the re-commitment of AFLW best and fairest Emily Bates, who had received multiple offers from clubs around the country.
"I was her biggest fan-girl, I reckon, just sitting back and watching it unfold. She did have an incredible season and she put in an amount of work, and players like me saw that behind the scenes. So to see that get rewarded, you can't help but be pretty stoked for her," she said.
"I'm stoked she's re-signed, because I tell you what, I've never been in someone's ear like an absolute pain in the arse more than I was. At the end of the day, the person she is and what she's been able to achieve, you'll do anything to make sure she stays round. Every day, I was that person asking, 'what are you doing?' But when it works out, you know it all pays off."
The 25th Mother's Day Classic fun run/walk will be held in various locations around the country on Sunday, May 8, raising money for breast cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. Registrations can be made at mothersdayclassic.com.au