Davidson MP Matt Cross stunned the NSW Parliament this week, announcing he is to be treated for bowel cancer.

Mr Cross revealed he will be taking a leave from Parliament, effective immediately, to receive treatment for the cancer. Bowel cancer takes the lives of more than 5,000 Australians each year, making it the country’s second leading cause of cancer death.

Matt and Gessika Cross

In a moving speech to Parliament, 39-year-old Matt Cross revealed the toll the disease had taken on his family. He also declared his love for his wife Gessika (image above, right), and their plans to start a family together.

Davidson MP Matt Cross congratulated by Pittwater MP Rory Amon

Having proven himself as an effective local member in a remarkably short period of time, Mr Cross also vowed the community would not suffer while he recovers, with colleagues including Pittwater MP Rory Amon to stand in for him as required.

The full speech, given on Tuesday evening (07 May) is reproduced below from the NSW Parliamentary record.

Mr MATT CROSS (Davidson) (19:50): Tonight I make a speech that I never thought I would deliver. I do so because it is easier to deliver a speech than to have hundreds of personal conversations about what I am about to share. I recently became one of over 150,000 Australians diagnosed with cancer in a typical year, or one of 300 Australians diagnosed with bowel cancer in an average week. Nothing about it has felt typical or average to me. I have felt shock, fear and denial but also gratitude that I have been diagnosed early. I hold on to that. When I wake up every morning, my first thought is did I just have a bad dream. My next thought is one of comfort that action is being taken. I am always surrounded by people, but recent times have been very lonely.

Cancer affects everyone in society. Whether you are diagnosed or a colleague, friend or loved one is diagnosed, cancer affects every single one of us. It does not discriminate. One could be from royalty, live a healthy lifestyle and have no family history. There is no absolute explanation. But some things can be explained. My maternal grandfather, Athol, survived bowel cancer, but my aunt Sheila, my aunt Enid and my uncle Norm died from bowel cancer. They are always in my heart. Although I knew there was a risk that I could one day get bowel cancer, I never believed that it would happen to me at the age of 39. My early diagnosis was, in so many ways, unlikely.

My cancer journey and diagnosis began when I was donating blood at Australian Red Cross Lifeblood. I have donated since my late teens. In May 2023 I successfully made a blood donation, but my haemoglobin levels were lower than normal. I told myself to eat more iron-rich foods. In February 2024, after a donation cooling‑off period due to overseas travel, I attempted to donate again. This time my haemoglobin levels were far too low and I could not donate. Lifeblood told me to visit a doctor. I also experienced fatigue but, as members of this place know, we can work long hours, so I simply put my fatigue down to my work.

Upon visiting my doctor, I asked for a prescription for iron tablets. I give full credit to my doctor, who referred me to have a colonoscopy. I will be completely honest: My doctor did not just casually tell me to have a colonoscopy; they stoically convinced me to do it. Still stubborn, I thank my wife, Gessika, for encouraging me to make sure that I had a colonoscopy in a timely manner. It was there that I discovered my cancer diagnosis. Ironically, given the diagnosis, I feel physically healthy, although it has been an emotional rollercoaster. Last week I attended community events, participated in committee work and celebrated Gess’s birthday with a lovely dinner date. I even completed my weekly 10‑kilometre run over the Sydney Harbour Bridge with my friend from the other place the Hon. Chris Rath.

Bowel cancer can be a silent killer. Donating blood gave my blood a voice; it alerted me to danger. I recognise Australian Red Cross Lifeblood. I donate so that I can help save lives. On this occasion, it will help to save my life. I ask everyone to consider becoming a blood donor. Each donation can help save up to three lives, but it might just help you too. I recognise Bowel Cancer Australia and proudly wear its ribbon and apple logo. The apple symbolises the bowel, and the small hole caused by a worm symbolises that if the worm is removed, it is unable to affect the health of the apple or the tree. I hope that will be the case for me too.

I ask everyone to consider seeing their doctor for regular health check-ups and to know the symptoms. As I discovered, it matters that your doctor asks, and that you know, your family history. In the coming days, I will undergo surgery and recovery will require my full focus. From today, I will be taking leave for some time. I will miss the community activities. I will miss interjecting in this place, especially to those who sit opposite me in the bear pit. I hope they will miss interjecting at me too. My office will continue to provide the highest standards of constituent service to the people of the Davidson electorate. I thank Annie, Richard and Abby. In my absence, I have asked the member for Wahroonga and the member for Pittwater to step in for me at community events and to support my office. I thank them for that. I also thank the Leader of the Opposition, the member for Cronulla; and the Opposition Whip, the member for Terrigal.

In recent times, some of my goals have changed literally overnight, but some goals have not changed. To start a family with my wife, Gessika, remains my goal. I thank her for being with me on my journey every step of the way—I love you. To serve the New South Wales community and the Davidson electorate remains my goal. To live a long and fulfilled life, work hard and stay true to my values remains my goal. But I have one new goal beyond survival: to run another marathon, this time as a cancer survivor. Once I have completely recovered, the Hon. Chris Rath and I will run another marathon, this time to raise funds for cancer research, prevention and awareness. I thank the Speaker for his support and thank the House for its indulgence this evening. I conclude with both a spiritual reflection and a profane reflection. For the spiritual reflection, the following hymn, Be Not Afraid, has been close to my heart since I was a child and comforts me during this time. It reads:

You shall cross the barren desert

But you shall not die of thirst

You shall wander far in safety

Though you do not know the way

You shall speak your words in foreign lands

And all will understand.

You shall see the face of God and live

Be not afraid

I go before you always

Come, follow me, and I will give you rest

For the profane reflection, I keep thinking of the timeless words of philosopher, bodybuilder, actor and former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. I finish with those words: I’ll be back.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate (file)

Matt Cross - upgrade Davidson High hall

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