Community mourns 'invincible' mother-of-three
THE North Arm community and Australian Rugby are mourning one of the game's pioneering women who lost her fight with breast cancer this week.
Loved ones have expressed their sadness at the death of Mieke Fortune (nee Gladwin) who was described as "invincible” before her sickness.
She was Australia's 34th Wallaroo and went on to feature in 14 tests and two World Cups.
She leaves behind her devoted husband Graham and their three children, Meg, Murk and Milan.
She died on Wednesday aged 41.
An emotional Graham told the Daily of her passion, love of rugby and cricket and her community-minded dedication.
"Everything she did, she did with such strong passion, it didn't matter what it was,” Graham said.
"She got into rugby because of bullies. She hated them. Then they stopped bullying.
"She has a tee-shirt that she would wear often, it reads 'invincible'. And she was, up until eight months ago.”
After hanging up the gold jersey, the Fortunes beef stud-cattle breeder ran a successful wholesale production nursery on the Coast.
In November, her breast cancer battle returned, this time on her brain.
Since then, Graham said she'd been bed-ridden and confined to hospital.
"We sold our nursery when we found out about the cancer and we had to move around the corner,” he said.
"Just so we could enjoy what we had left and spend time together.
"She was someone who could do whatever she wanted but seeing her sick was cruel.”
He said the community support following her getting sick had been overwhelming.
The Wallaroos will participate in a minute's silence and wear black armbands in their upcoming clash against New Zealand at ANZ Stadium Sydney on Saturday August 18.
Rugby Australia's chief executive, Raelene Castle offered condolences only behalf of the organisation.
"She will be remembered by those who knew her for her passion for the country and farming, and her brave battle has provided inspiration for many who will sorely miss her.”
Further tributes have flown on social media with many offering condolences to her family.
Frankie Gregory wrote "Rest in peace. Our thoughts are with you Graham and family. Taken way to soon.”
Bill Moran said "True warriors will always stay in our hearts. Mieke Fortune farewell my friend. They say it's played in heaven.”
Noosa District High Class of 94 posted "Today we say goodbye to a Class of 94 legend. Mieke Fortune lost her battle with cancer. She will be missed by many. RIP.”